CALAFIA: Manifesting the Terrestrial Paradise

Starting in 2018 and continuing through 2020, the MexiCali Biennial centers on the character of Calafia and the ideal of the Terrestrial Paradise of California.

CALAFIA seeks to explore the spirit of California by using the great mythological Black female warrior who is the namesake and ruler of the island of California, as a source of inspiration and artistic departure. In Garci Rodrigues de Montalvo’s fifth book of his sixteenth-century opus Las Sergas de Esplandian (The Adventures of Esplandian), the story of the great queen Calafia and her army of Amazons is told with decided wonder that not only establishes her place as a powerful influence on California, a region which spans both sides of the U.S. and Mexico border, but also as a reflection of the ongoing history of the area. The story tells of the rich island of California and its powerful women, mythical beasts and the quest for greatness set the foundation for the continuing mythos of its people and its land.

The parallels between the myth of Calafia and current day inhabitants of the great state of California don’t stop at its etymology. The phantasmagoric relationship can be seen through the associations of California throughout its historic past and into the present. From the cinematic glamour of Hollywood, to its identity as a fertile paradise, to its association with gold and riches, the story and character of Calafia can be a point of critical interrogation used to explore and critique California’s stories, contradictions and identities.

CALAFIA is proudly presented as part of the MexiCali Biennial’s 2018/19 programming. The MexiCali Biennial is a bi-national arts organization that explores the area of the California/Mexico border as a site for aesthetic production.  The biennial showcases nomadic exhibitions that partner with arts institutions to showcase both emerging and established artists working in all media. Originally started as a critique of the proliferation of international and regional biennials, the MexiCali Biennial may occur at any time and on any side of the US, Mexican border.

Special Exhibitions and Events surrounding CALAFIA

LAUNCH at LACE: Special weekend of performances held at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions in Hollywood. Performers: Edna Avalos, Artemisa Clark with Rebeca Hernandez, Cali (Claudia Algara), Dino Dinco, Carmina Escobar, Melanie Griffin, Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Haydeé Jimenez, Jason Magabo Perez, Slanguage Studios and #SNATCHPOWER. Installation by Dani Dodge. Children’s workshop led by Slanguage Studio.

CALAFIA: Manifesting the Terrestrial Paradise at RAFFMA. San Bernardino. Visual Arts exhibition with special programming, film screenings, performances and artist talks.October 6 – December 15, 2018. Participating Artists: Nicole Antebi, antena, Abraham Avila, Raul Baltazar and Victoria Delgadillo, Juan Bastardo, Carlos Beltran, Chris Christion, Artemisa Clark, cognate collective, Yutsil Cruz, Nikki Darling and Dean Erdmann, Jorge R. Gutiérrez, Xandra Ibarra, Jane Chang Mi, Kristi Lippire, Keaton Macon, Maya Makrandilal, Ruben Garcia Marrufo and Maximiliano Martinez, chinwe okona, Noe Olivas, Monica Rodriguez, Sandy Rodriguez, Julio M Romero, Luis Alonso Sanchez, Andrea Sofia Santizo, #SNATCHPOWER, Mariangeles Soto-Diaz, Sergio Teran, Diane Williams and Jenny Yurshansky.

RECLAIMING MYTH. San Bernardino. October 6 – November 20, 2018. This multi-media group exhibition features works by CSUSB art students Ryan Clark, Paul Garcia, Melora Garcia and Juan Nevares and international artist Mely Barragan as part of a collaboration between CSUSB’s Office of Student Research, CSUSB’s Department of Art, RAFFMA and the MexiCali Biennial.

CALAFIA: Manifesting the Terrestrial Paradise at the Armory. Pasadena, CA. – Artists: #SNATCHPOWER, Juan Bastardo, Chelle Barbour, Mely Barragán, Miguel Buenrostro, Enid Baxter Ryce, Chris Christion, Cog•nate Collective,  Nikki Darling and Dean Erdmann, Yutsil Cruz, David de Rozas, Melora Garcia, Invasorix, Maya Mackrandilal, Noé Olivas, Abigail Raphael Collins, Adee Roberson, Mónica Rodríguez, Sandy Rodriguez, Timo Saarelma, Paulina Sánchez, Julio Romero, Amanda Trager & Erik Moskowitz, Hillary Mushkin, Chinwe Okona, Jeniffer Pereda, Jessica Sevilla, Diane Williams, and Kim Zumpfe

A Feast for Calafia & The Island of California – pop-up dinner events benefiting the MB while also generating and re-inforcing community ties through food culture.