Eleana Antonaki, Orlee Malka, Sara Ouhaddou

Curated by Lila Nazemian within Protocinema’s Emerging Curator Series 2022

  • <p><em>Now That We Have Established a Common Ground</em>, exhibition poster, designed by Alireza Asadi </p>

    Now That We Have Established a Common Ground, exhibition poster, designed by Alireza Asadi

Opening Reception: Friday, March 4, 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Exhibition: March 4 - April 2, 2022
Location: LES Gallery at The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center
107 Suffolk Street, Lower East Side, New York
Opening Hours: Every day, 11 am - 5 pm

PROTOZINE: Now That We Have Established A Common Ground
View online & download PDF

Protocinema presents Now That We Have Established A Common Ground, a group exhibition with Eleana Antonaki, Orlee Malka, and Sara Ouhaddou, curated by Lila Nazemian within our Emerging Curator Series 2022. Organized at and in partnership with The Clemente, New York, to share contemporary concerns through art between communities of the global majority, this exhibition explores knowledge production and dissemination through rethinking the practice of archeology.

Now That We Have Established a Common Ground investigates archeological practices, language, heritage and ironically, the ambiguity of common ground that exists between the artists’ works. Situated within varying temporalities, the featured artworks transform the exhibition space into a site from which to reconsider the ways that historical narratives and subjectivities are codified through legacies of archeology. Proposing perspectives that engage forms of intergenerational memory, some works contest obsolete aspects of lingering archeological practices, another presents a post-human reality existing within centuries old and subjectively programmed states of being, and others trace histories of repression through erasure. The exhibition title, derived from a line in Eleana Antonaki’s video, The dig is her. She is the dig (2019), is a play on the different themes broached in this exhibition.

“The dig” is a term used as slang in archeology to refer to an excavation site and as such; it is being studied under scrutiny. Antonaki’s The dig is her. She is the dig features a female character in the form of a block of water narrating her experience in the world of the distant future. She describes the quarry site she was excavated from and reveals that she intends to return there in order to haunt them. Water takes the form of intergenerational consciousness as an accumulation of collective experiences. Antonaki is interested in excavation as a political act and its relation to geology and archeology. The video proposes the female as an archeological site, as the site where knowledge is produced. 

Orlee Malka’s work, titled fieldwork to the unconsoled (2018), is an excavation project uncovering archeological and ethnographic methodologies, specifically since European imperialism and normalized by Western academia and other institutions. It includes replicas, objects, readings, and experiments that rethink acts of extraction of the non-West by the West. Sifters (replica) is a sculpture of replicated sifters from archival images of British excavation-looting sites dating from the 18th century onwards. In empty museum (2019), Malka utilizes museum floor plans as an experiment to rethink the inhuman excess of the Museum’s accumulation of looted objects. She outlines a room in the floorplan titled, empty museum. The project conveys the museum executives’ greatest anxiety: the institution becoming empty as a result of the restitution processes. Also, this artwork lingers on the value of emptiness as a pause and proposition to imagine the world in different terms and will include a schedule of accessible conversations for the duration of the exhibition.

Sara Ouhaddou studies the history of communities from remote regions in the Atlas mountains in Morocco and the Amori mountains in Japan, both of which possess no written records of their past. Using traditional Moroccan bookbinding techniques, Ouhaddou’s artist-book Atlas (1) (2018) documents the existing symbols in textiles, ceramics, ancient stone engravings as well as fossils. The artist identifies astounding correlations between the symbols of the Amazigh Moroccan and Jomon Japanese prehistoric civilizations. Both communities have been historically subjugated to various forms of cultural erasure, including linguistic suppression. For her installation Aomori (1) (2018), Ouhaddou worked alongside artisans in Tokyo to make ceramic pieces that recreate engraved symbols, such as trees and clouds, shared between these civilizations that were believed to have never been in contact. She perceives this as connected memories that transcend the bounds of written communication and how history, knowledge and culture are transmitted from one generation to the next.

The construction of the self is intrinsically linked to the understanding of heritage and one’s past. In Now That We Have Established a Common Ground, artists Antonaki, Malka and Ouhaddou disrupt established frameworks, both in practice and representation, meant to maintain legacies of formulated identities and conformed conceptions of history. Their works are imbued with their individual traces and ultimately, this exhibition is a trans-temporal dialogue between the artists from which to contemplate possibilities for the future. 

Protocinema presents a public program of artist talks, discussions, a film screening, and walkthroughs to accompany Now That We Have Established A Common Ground. This group exhibition includes works by Eleana Antonaki, Orlee Malka, and Sara Ouhaddou, and is curated by Lila Nazemian within Protocinema’s Emerging Curator Series 2022. Taking place in virtual, physical, and hybrid spaces, the program will offer in-depth conversations on each participating artists’ practices and discussions on repatriation, western institutions, colonial legacies, and practices to further elaborate on the themes explored within the exhibition. Organized at and in partnership with The Clemente, New York, to share contemporary concerns through art between communities of the global majority, this exhibition explores knowledge production and dissemination through rethinking various institutional practices. Now That We Have Established a Common Ground investigates archeological practices, language, heritage, and ironically, the ambiguity of common ground that exists between the artists’ works. In varying temporalities, each work, here, sheds critical light on different institutional practices that have subjugated populations worldwide. Ouhaddou connects the colonization of two communities through their written traditions. Malka creates a space of conversation to engage with movements of restitution within the fields of archeology and ethnography. Anotaki addresses dehumanizing legacies within the geological practice.

March 12, Saturday, 3:00 - 4:00 pm
Orlee Malka, Artist, New York
Lila Nazemian, Curator, Protocinema, New York
Digital program only

March 19, Saturday, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Sara Ouhaddou, Artist, Paris
Lila Nazemian, Curator, Protocinema, New York
Digital program only

March 24, Thursday, 7:00 - 8:00 pm
Eleana Antonaki, Artist, New York
Lila Nazemian, Curator, Protocinema, New York
IRL program at The Clemente, also via zoom

March 30, Wednesday - 5:00 - 7:30 pm
Beatriz Santiago-Muñoz, Artist, San Juan
Lila Nezamian, Curator, Protocinema, New York
Sofia Reeser del Rio, Senior Program Manager, The Clemente
Digital program only  

April 2, Saturday, 5:00 - 7:30 pm
Exhibition Walkthrough & Film Screening
5 pm Walkthrough with Lila Nazemian, Curator
6 pm Screening: Surviving Fortress, 51 minutes
Directed by Farshad Fadaian, Co-Produced by Ava Studios, Paris
Winner of the “Best Film,” “Best Director” and “Best Cinematography” at the Cinema Vérité Film Festival in Iran This program is presented in partnership with ArteEast. 

April 9, Saturday, 3:00 - 4:00 pm
Conversation: How do objects and people live?
A timely conversation about the repatriation of art objects from the perspective of law, art, and culture set within Now That We Have Established a Common Ground
Fionnuala Rogers, Art and Cultural Heritage Lawyer, Founder and Director of Canvas Art Law, and Chair of the U.K. Committee of the Blue Shield
Mary Rinebold, Writer, Consultant at Canvas Art Law
Mari Spirito, Director, Curator, Protocinema, New York, Istanbul
Lila Nazemian, Curator, Protocinema, New York
Digital program only

Launched in 2015, Protocinema Emerging Curator Series (PECS) is a mentorship program that provides professional training in the form of learning through doing. Protocinema Emerging Curator for 2022 Lila Nazemian is mentored by Lumi Tan, Senior Curator, The Kitchen, New York; Tirdad Zolghadr, Curator and Writer, Artistic Director of the Sommerakademie Paul Klee and Mari Spirito, Executive Director, Curator, Protocinema, Istanbul, New York.

Protocinema is a cross-cultural art organization that commissions and presents site-aware art around the world. Our purpose is to support dialogue between cultures on equal footing and create opportunities for listening & expression. By doing so, Protocinema aids the development of relationships both at the mindfully local & globally interconnected levels. Protocinema advocates for empathy, working towards an understanding of difference across regions through its exhibitions, commissions, public programs, publications, and mentorship. Founded in 2011 by Mari Spirito, Protocinema is an ambulant nonprofit 501(c)3, free of ‘brick and mortar.’ Our locations are varied, responding both to global concerns and changing conditions on the ground.

The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center Inc. is a Puerto Rican/Latinx multi-arts cultural institution that has demonstrated a broad-minded cultural vision and inclusive philosophy rooted in NYC’s Lower East Side/Loisaida. While focused on the cultivation, presentation, and preservation of Puerto Rican and Latinx culture, the Center is equally committed to a multi-ethnic/international latitude, determined to operate in a polyphonic manner that provides affordable working space and venues to artists, small arts organizations, emergent and independent community producers that reflect the cultural diversity of the LES and our city.

Artists biographies:
Eleana Antonaki:
Orlee Malka:
Sara Ouhaddou: 

Press Inquiries: Protocinema: Alper Turan,, +49 17670518587, +90 5068706808; Mari Spirito,, +1917 660 7332 

Supporters of Protocinema Emerging Curator Series: Charlotte Feng Ford, New York; Sam Soltani, New York; Stephan Stoyanov, Sofia; Hamid Reza Tabarraei, Paris.

Special Thanks to Koray Duman, New York; ICI (Independent Curators International), New York; Gülben Çapan, Istanbul; Libertad O. Guerra & the entire team at The Clemente, New York; Gallery Polaris, Paris; Elma Art Gallery, Brooklyn; Youssef Hitti, New York and Hieu Truong, Paris.

PECS22 Public Programs: How do objects live? by Fionnuala Rogers & Mary Rinebold & Lila Nazemian & Mari Spirito

PECS22 Public Programs: Beatriz Santiago Muñoz & Sofía Reeser del Rio & Lila Nazemian

PECS22 Public Programs: Eleana Antonaki & Lila Nazemian

PECS22 Public Programs: Orlee Malka & Lila Nazemian

PECS22 Public Programs: Sara Ouhaddou & Lila Nazemian


Ελεάνα Αντωνάκη: «Ο πόλεμος έχει τη δύναμη να επηρεάζει ακόμα και γενιές που δεν έχουν έρθει ακόμα στον κόσμο»

by Δημήτρης Ράλλης

March 27, 2022