During the month of August 2006, I mailed out 100 letters by U.S. ground mail from my home in Los Angeles, CA, USA, to La Casa
de la Tia Tina in Mexicali, B.C., Mexico. Inside each envelope were
1 x 8.5-inch segments of a satellite map showing the U.S./Mexican
border between Calexico, CA and Mexicali, Mexico. Upon my
arrival in Mexicali I was to reassemble these fragments back into
a 100-inch long aerial map of the border.
Despite the exhibition space being less than a mile away from
the U.S./Mexican border, none of the 100 letters that I mailed out
arrived. The yellow line in the installation shot below represents
the space that the map sections would have occupied had they
Mexicali Biennial offered an opportunity to address the xenophobia that is percolating in much of the United States. My project, called Telephone/Teléfono, was designed as an instrument to foster cross-border communication. It consisted of two structures: one placed in the U.S. and one in Mexico along the Calexico/ Mexicali border. The structures were identical except that the U.S. structure was painted red, white, and blue and the one in Mexico was painted red, white, and green. They were 13-feet tall, set in a base, with rungs attached to the central pole. When installed on the border, they were connected by a string attached to Dixie Cups placed at the tops of the structures. Users could climb to the top, where they could pick up the cups/phones and also see each other over the wall while talking.
ONE WAY is the record of a performative act done in the border crossing at Mexicali, B.C. Mexico and Calexico, CA. by Gustavo Siono and Angel Nava. The main objective was to transgress between these two border town roads and immigration laws by walking in the opposite direction.
At 7:00 AM on Sunday, May 24, 2009, three members of the Mexicali based art group, Fundacion Wana Winnie were heading towards the city of Los Angeles, California with the intention of participating in the 2009 MexiCali Biennial. The aim of the foundation was to conduct a performance art piece featuring Texas Queen, a character created by the artist Ismael Castro, and to perform other actions planned specially for the occasion. .The journey began with the usual wait in line at the international border in order to cross to the other side. The group came to the border checkpoint, where immigration officials decided to pull them aside for further review. A few minutes later, the trio was arrested and subjected to a thorough interrogation that lasted for almost 10 hours and ended with the cancellation of visas for two members. Their attempt to make art at the Biennial was a crime committed under the CWP code 212 (a) (2) (A) (i) (II ). The video shown here was played by immigration officials on the recording equipment the foundation was trying to transport across the border.
The 2006 MexiCali Biennial started in the border town of Mexicali, MX, at alternative art and music space La Casa de la Tia Tina before traveling to Chavez Studios in Los Angeles. It included installations and border-crossing interventions by Los Angeles and Mexicali based artists. 2006 California based artists exhibiting in Mexicali:
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, Matt Wardell