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due to the covid-19 pandemic we had to close a big heritage with a glorious past, held at critical distance, early. in light of this, we have uploaded install images, as well as the two video works included in the exhibition (antonaki's appears as a link, and xenofontos' is embedded). all install shots are by Toni Hafkenscheid.

xx ma ma

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A Big Heritage with A Glorious Past presents the work of Eleana Antonaki and Marina Xenofontos in an inconclusive dialogue around the migratory experience. In their practices, both artists explore transnational feminist perspectives, honing in on the adversities of migration and strategies of settling and creating homes while in exile.

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Eleana Antonaki. Surface I. Gesso and graphite on wood panel, 11x14”, 2020.

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Eleana Antonaki. The Dig is Her She is the Dig, 13:51, Single channel video, 2019.

Antonaki’s video work The Dig is Her She is the Dig (2019) takes place in the Mediterranean in the distant future. Here, women’s bodies have evolved so drastically to adapt to migration that they have become water. The video functions as a portrait of a woman, a block of water, who tells her story. Drawing connections between archaeology and displacement, which are both considered in their politically motivated sense, Antonaki’s character explains that the femme blocks of water, like her, like to return to the sites they were excavated from to haunt them as an act of nostalgia, love, and “cheating historical time.”

You can watch the full video here

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Marina Xenofontos, Lemon Dance in New York. Archival images from Petros J. Petrides "In a foreign homeland" printed on vinyl, 2020.

This exhibition also includes found images from the Marina Xenofontos’ archive depicting the “lemon-dance.” This peculiar annual event was created by Greek-Cypriot immigrants living in New York City, where couples dance while balancing a lemon between their foreheads until it drops.

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Marina Xenofontos, Sunlight Vandalism, 13:10min, single channel video, 2019.

In Xenofontos’s work, she examines everyday stories that are inflected with insight into the power structures of civic spaces. For her documentary-style film Sunlight Vandalism (2019), Xenofontos presents two narratives woven together to reveal a diverse portrait of Cyprus and the intricacies of Mediterranean migration. This includes a conversation with a Kurdish mother named Ayşe, who requested asylum in Cyprus in 2007. Speaking in Turkish Cypriot with Xenofontos—who responds in a Greek Cypriot—Ayşe is depicted swiping through images of her new home in Ankara, Turkey, where she has since relocated. The second portion of the film follows Ayşe in her space of work, where she is a cleaner in a local school, and in her living room, where Xenofontos interviews her in front of her wall of images of Abdullah Öcalan—a once prominent yet controversial leftist political figure. Through these vistas, Xenofontos reflects on the labour of domesticity and the precarity of settling during politically motivated migration.

Marina Xenofontos, Sunlight Vandalism, 13:10min, single channel video, 2019.

Through their work, both Xenofontos and Antonaki explore how notions of home exist in relation to the migratory subject. They ask: How can the body stabilize in the face of exile? How can women’s labour question the precariousness of borders? And, what are new forms through which we can understand dispossession? In bringing their work together, this exhibition reflects on strategies of adaptation, resourcefulness, and survival that occur as a result of, but not in direct dialogue with, political governance.

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