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The MexiCali Biennial is a non-profit organization that aims to provide a platform for border crossing, progressive art exhibitions and events. These interventions, installations and performances encourage dynamic cultural exchanges that resonate within the fluid context of the territory covering Mexico and California. Concentrating on the border as the site of transgressions, this biennial distinguishes itself by tapping into a unique aesthetic derived from a culture of art and critical dialog evolving from the confluence of both countries in a region defined by its hybridism.
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 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 and the less formal and often more innovative process of bi-national exchange that happens every day.
The MexiCali Biennial began as art project between Ed Gomez and
Luis G. Hernandez in April of 2006. Gomez and Hernandez are both curators and artists who live and work in Los Angeles, CA USA. These two co-founders of the MexiCali Biennial were invited to curate an exhibition of Los Angeles based artists at La Casa de la Tía Tina ,espacio alternativo de arte y música. The MexiCali Biennial was their proposal for Tia Tina. Project organizers for the 2006 MexiCali Biennial were Ed Gomez, Luis G. Hernandez and Pilar Tompkins.
The premise for the MexiCali Biennial was to play with contextualization by labeling an art exhibition a biennial and simultaneously using the status of biennial in order to questioning how traditional biennials function. The title and structure of the MexiCali Biennial came about by looking at the specificity of the exhibition site and using the word Mexicali as a readymade for the exhibition’s structure. The word Mexicali is the merger of the two words Mexico and California and is representative of its geographical location. The location of the 2006 exhibition provided an opportunity to address social and political issues prevalent at the border of where two countries merge into one another.
The MexiCali Biennial may or may not happen every two years on either side of the US/Mexican border.
below, the 2006 Biennial at La Casa de la Tia Tina, Mexicali MX