Open Call (Closed)

Proposals can be submitted in English or Spanish/Las propuestas se pueden entregar en español o inglés Versión en español Aquí          Deadline for proposals is March 31,  […]

Calafia: Manifesting the Terrestrial Paradise/Calafia: manifestando el paraíso terrenal. MexiCali Biennial 2018/19

Proposals can be submitted in English or Spanish/Las propuestas se pueden entregar en español o inglés

Versión en español Aquí

         Deadline for proposals is March 31,        2018/Fecha límite 31 de marzo de 2018

The MexiCali Biennial is pleased to announce that we are currently accepting artwork proposals for the 2018/19 round of programming.  Please consider submitting proposals for this upcoming dynamic set of exhibitions which will take place at venues across regions of California, both north and south of the border. We are accepting submissions in all media including, but not limited to, performance, film, 2D, 3D, installation and new genres. The curators are looking for solidly researched projects which display a strong understanding and focus on the rigor of the curatorial theme. The MexiCali Biennial is open to all artists living and/or working in the US state of California and Mexico. Special consideration will be made for works produced by artists outside of these areas if the curators deem the proposed projects display a strong understanding of the culture and political climate of the region.

Calafia: Manifesting the Terrestrial Paradise

The curatorial concept for this round of programming will deal directly and indirectly with the myth of the island of California, in particular on the character Queen Calafia.  This mythical black female character serves as an inspiration and a strong persona, as well as a symbol for California itself. She can be seen as both a cause of and an opposition to circumstances in the past, present and future of this terrestrial paradise.

A Brief Study of Calafia and the Mythical Island of California

Calafia is a book within a larger chivalric story written by Castilian author Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo in the early sixteenth century. Expanding on his novel Las sergas de Esplandian, Montalvo created a tale of wonder, full of powerful women and mythical beasts. At the center was Calafia, the queen of the mythical island of California. She was described as a mighty black and beautiful queen with great ambition. Montalvo writes, “as you will recall from historical records, during the days when mighty Pagan warriors sailed with great fleets to distant shores of the world, there reigned in the island of California a mighty and beautiful queen. She was more ambitious, daring and courageous than any of the rulers who had previously occupied the throne.”[1]

It is in this tale, in fact, that the word California was first written, and most scholars believe this to be the true etymological source for the name.[2] In describing this mythical island, Montalvo creates an exotic environment full of strong Black warrior women and mythical beasts, located very near the Terrestrial Paradise. The island was only inhabited by women “with no men among then, for they lived in the fashion of Amazons.” The women were described as having “strong and firm bodies of ardent courage and great strength.” [3] They dressed in gold and lived in large caves, where they raised an army of man-eating griffins. These women were successful warriors with a great fleet of ships. The Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and his men did indeed believe that the Baja peninsula was an island when they first laid eyes upon it. This casual naming of the land is important in that it is the only instance where a state was named after a mythical place.

The MB18/19 curatorial team is interested in projects directly related to the myth of the island of California as well as a broader understanding of the text and its relationship to current and past events in the region. Points of interest are feminism, identity, colonialism, gentrification and displacement, misogyny in Hollywood, the facade of the movie industry, the gold rush, Aztlan and the resistance movement to the current political climate along with a much broader understanding of the border region and the citizenry of the area.

Suggested Reading/Research Sources

A strong understanding of the history and place of the island of California and Queen Calafia is highly encouraged in submitted proposals. Here are some suggested reading material, though the artist should carry out further research on their own.

Wikipedia pages:

The Island of California
The Etymology of California
The Mexicali Biennial

Reference Materials:

Hale, E.E. The Atlantic Monthly. The Queen of California. March, 1864
Putnam, Ruth. California: The Name
Little, William T., Spain’s Fantastic Vision and the Mythic Creation of California

Suggested Reading:

Polk, Dora Beal. The Island of California: A History of the Myth
Sukut, Mozelle. The Chronicles of California’s Queen Calafia. Translation from original into English

Proposal Submissions

Please submit all proposals to :

The curators will accept up to 2 proposals. Included images should not be more than 1 megabyte. You may include detail shots. A single pdf is preferred which should include CV, website link if applicable, artist statement and a brief explanation of how the proposed works fit into the theme of Calafia: Manifesting the Terrestrial Paradise. Pdf is not to exceed 5 megabytes. Please e-mail inquiries to

Deadline for proposals is March 31, 2018.


The MexiCali Biennial will kick off the 2018/2019 program with a powerful weekend of performances at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) in Hollywood in the month of June. Additional programming will begin in October 2018 at the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art in San Bernardino, CA. Exhibitions will also be held at the Armory Center for the Arts, Steppling Gallery at SDSU IV campus in Calexico as well as locations on and around the border and venues in Mexicali and Tijuana. More information to come on future locations and projects.

Curatorial Team

 Ed Gomez is an artist, curator and educator located in Los Angeles, CA.  His interdisciplinary art practice revolves around the questioning of exhibition practices, institutional framework and historical models of artistic production. In 2006, he co-founded the MexiCali Biennial along with Luis G. Hernandez.  The MexiCali Biennial is a bi-national art and music program addressing the region of the US-Mexico border, in which he is currently a director and co-president.  This project serves not only as a curatorial project but also an ongoing art project that questions the over abundance of biennials occurring around the globe and the impact they have on the art community.  Mr. Gomez is also the director of G.O.C.A., The Gallery of Contemporary Art, which is a traveling self-contained exhibition space humorously located in his suitcase.  It has showcased emerging and established artists from Los Angeles, Phoenix, New York and Mexico. He has exhibited both nationally and internationally and his practice includes abstract and representational painting, printmaking, graphic design, video and three dimensional work, as well as conceptual models of art making. Mr Gomez is currently an Assistant Professor of Sculpture at California State University San Bernardino.

Luis G. Hernandez is an artist and curator who lives and works between Southern California and Mexicali, Mexico. Hernandez’ aesthetic production consists of sculptures, paintings, drawing, collages, and installations that respond in subtle ways to the space where they are exhibited.  The artist makes provocative, humorous, and many times absurd associations between context, materials, and language, working through these elements as if they were sculptural spaces, and incorporating subject matter that points to art history, politics, and border issues.

In 2006, Luis G. Hernandez and artist Ed Gomez co-founded the MexiCali Biennial, a non-profit that grants exposure to artists and locations often overlooked in the contemporary arts of Southern California and Mexico.  The MexiCali Biennial remains to serve not only as a curatorial/art project, but also as a satirical platform upon which to question the abundance of biennials occurring around the globe and the impact they have on the art community.  The last edition of the MexiCali Biennial took place in 2013 and was held at the Vincent Price Art Museum, Los Angeles; Jaus Gallery, Santa Monica; Mexicali Rose: Centro de Artes/Medios, Mexicali; and Facultad de Artes, UABC, campus Mexicali.

Daniela Lieja Quintanar is a Los Angeles-based curator at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) whose research interests include contemporary art and curatorial practices that explore the politics and social issues of everyday life. Presently, she serves as Project Coordinator and Contributing Curatorial Advisor for the forthcoming exhibition and publication Below the Underground: Renegade Art and Action in the 1990s Mexico at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, as part of PST LA/LA. She recently worked with artist Teresa Margolles, as project art coordinator, for her contribution to the Public Art Biennial CURRENT: LA Water.  In addition, she was research assistant at the Getty Research Institute’s project Urban Transfer(s): Building the Latin American Metropolis from Independence to the Threshold of Modernism. In 2014, she curated Acciones Territoriales (Territorial Acts) at the Museo Ex Teresa in Mexico City, with two weeks of daily public programming. Lieja’s masters thesis Territories of resistance: the impact of the Zapatista Rebellion on artistic practices in Mexico City, 1994-1995, is the base of her ongoing research into territories of resistance in Latin America via arts and politics. She was the coordinator of the research center at LUGAR_CERO in the Historic Center of Mexico City from 2011-12, an itinerant project that explored the complexity of public space. Concurrently, she was editor of Bunker, arts section for Registro MXmagazine. Lieja holds a B.A. in Ciencias de la Cultura (Cultural Studies) from the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana, Mexico City, and a M.A. in Art and Curatorial Practices in the Public Sphere from USC.

[1] de Montalvo, Garci Rodriguez.  The Chronicles of California’s Queen Calafia.Translated by Mozelle Sukut. pg 21

[2] Putnam, Ruth. California: The Name., University of California Publications in History

[3] de Montalvo, Garci Rodriguez.  The Chronicles of California’s Queen Calafia.Translated by Mozelle Sukut. pg 17