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2009/10 + 2006

2009/10 MexiCali Biennial

“It is the between that is tainted with
strangeness.” –Helène Cixous

The first MexiCali Biennial took place in Mexicali in 2006 with the idea of producing an exhibition featuring artists from California and Mexico. The addendum of “Biennial” was a deliberate political choice—to add to an art show in Mexicali a term that came with the baggage of art-world prestige and exhaustion, a Biennial at a time when no one could stand the thought of another one. The aim was to provide artists with an opportunity to respond to and transgress the overarching environmental context of the production and display of their work with a notion of conversation that engages both with the heavily funded and institutionalized Biennial framework within the art world and the less formal and often more innovative process of bi-national exchange that happens every day. The work that resulted was varied and exhilarating, and the MexiCali Biennial will take place again this year and in 2009.

The upcoming exhibition in Tijuana is the first of three iterations of the second MexiCali Biennial. Through these events, we aim to provide a platform for border crossing, progressive art exhibitions and events. Treating the border as an uncanny and liminal construct, these interventions, installations and performances encourage dynamic cultural exchanges that resonate within the context of the territory covering Mexico and California. Concentrating on the border as an idea or a site of transgressions, this biennial distinguishes itself by tapping into a unique aesthetic derived from a culture of art and dialog evolving from the confluence of both countries in a region defined by its hybridism.

This first presentation of work will take place in
Tijuana at La Casa del Túnel: Art Center, in a
building under which a tunnel across the border
was discovered in 2004. Located in the Colonia
Federal district just steps from the US/Mexico
Border, La Casa del Túnel shares with the MexiCali
Biennial the goals of creating a new model for
sustainable cultural development in the cross
border region with full participation from all

Work by Skip Arnold, Juan Bastardo,
Anibal Catalan, Pablo Cobian, Jeff Chabot,
Michelle Chong, Fernando Corona,
Fidel Hernández, Rebeca Hernández, I.C.E.,
Nicholas Kersulis, Ryan Lamb, Ivan Limas,
Albert Lopez, Susana Rodriguez, Ernesto Rosas,
Gustavo Siono, Sergio Torres-Torres,
Jason Wallace Triefenbach
and Fundaçion Wanna Winnie.
Curated by Ed Gomez, Luis Hernandez and Amy

Working in photography, painting, sculpture, performance and new media, these artists from California and Mexico interrogate the economies of exchange underlying extant constructs of race, nationalism, art and identity in the region, while insisting on a transgressive fluidity for these categories. Preoccupied by violence, both corporeal and political, and possessing provocative wit, this work presents an initial foray into a dialogue that will continue over the course of the next year. The second exhibition will take place in MexiCali in August 2009, with the last installation to follow in January 2010 at the Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design.

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2006 MexiCali Biennial

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The MexiCali Biennial is pleased to announce the inaugural installment of its bi-national, dual-venue exhibition of contemporary art and music. Featuring artists and musicians from southern California and the bordering Mexican states, the MexiCali Biennial aims to provide a platform for border crossing, progressive art exhibitions and events. These events encourage dynamic cultural exchanges that resonate within the fluid context of the US-Mexico border. This border biennial distinguishes itself by tapping into the unique aesthetic derived from a sub-culture of art, music and critical dialog evolving from the confluence of both countries in a region defined by its hybridism.

The 2006 MexiCali Biennial encompasses two events, one on either side of the US-Mexico border. The first is an exhibition comprised of thirteen Los Angeles-based artists at the Casa de la Tía Tina, an alternative art and music space in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico. The second phase of the biennial is a contemporary multi-media event with visual artists, live bands and DJs from both Los Angeles and Mexicali at Chavez Studios in East Los Angeles, California.

Characterized by it open-endedness, the curatorial approach of the organizers reflects the unencumbered nature of cultural diaspora and urban sprawl. Thematic concerns lie in the overarching context of this exhibition being seen as a biennial. Curated solely by invitation, the participating artists are free to address the inherent conditions of the exhibition sites as they see fit. The intent is not to ask artists to respond to socio-political issues characteristic of this region, but instead to expose international audiences to the wide variety of artworks that are currently produced intuitively from within this context.

Future incarnations of the MexiCali Biennial may occur at odd intervals, as this project is not limited to a bi-annual platform. No restrictions are to apply to venue type which may include institutional, alternative, or non-traditional art spaces as well as conceptual locations such as the internet, public interventions or by word of mouth. Non-regional, international participants will be included in future exhibitions and events.

2006 featured artists include Andrew Armstrong, Jesse Benson, Gomez Bueno, Cindy Santos Bravo, Luis G. Hernandez, Ed Gomez, Skylar Haskard, Gustavo Herrera, Hugo Hopping, Kristi Lippire, Ruben Ochoa, Mike Rogers, and Matt Wardell. Projects involve on and off-site installations and border-crossing interventions including Ed Gomez’s “100 Envelopes from Los Angeles to Mexicali”, consisting of 100 envelopes mailed between California and Mexico each containing a one-inch section of a map of the US-Mexican border, to be reassembled in the gallery. Mike Rogers fosters communication in his installation entitled “Telephone/Teléfono” consisting of two 10-foot telephone poles on either side of the border fence separating Calexico and Mexicali, connected by the string and tin cans of a child’s telephone game. Cindy Santos Bravo’s multi-layered construction investigates histories of imposed security barriers across international borders.

Musical guests at both events will include Los Angeles-based performer Lysa Flores, whose alternative rock en español sound has earned her recognition as one of the leading voices of the genre north of the border. Flores was named by Newsweek as one of 20 young Latinos to watch in the new millennium, has toured internationally for over ten years with legendary performer El Vez, and has opened for renowned musicians including Green Day, Los Lobos, Victoria Williams and the Jaguares. Multiple musical groups will perform at each event and DJs from Mexicali and Los Angeles will spin.

La Casa de la Tía Tina is an alternative space for art and music, featuring progressive art exhibitions, film screenings and musical events. Chavez Studios is an artist-run, Artists in Residency studio complex in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles, California.

Special thanks to: The Steppling Art Gallery, Imperial Valley Campus of San Diego State University for their support on displaying “Telephone/Teléfono” by Mike Rogers.

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