Melora García, from the series “The Journey (Baja California to Del Norte California)” (2018-2019), exposed Polaroid 600 film and plastic cartridges (courtesy of the artist)

The MexiCali Biennial is a nomadic exhibition that takes places every two years (more or less) and brings together artists from both sides of the US-Mexico border. Founded in 2006 in the Mexican border town of Mexicali by artists Ed Gomez and Luis G. Hernandez, its fourth edition is now wrapping up at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena. Titled Calafia: Manifesting the Terrestrial Paradise, it takes its name from the mythical Black Amazonian warrior queen Calafia, who ruled over the exotic island of California in the 16th-century novel Las Sergas de Esplandian (The Adventures of Esplandian) by Spanish author Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo. This story serves as a jumping-off point for artists to explore issues of feminism, colonialism, and indigenous rights in the historic and contemporary border-straddling place called California.

On the exhibition’s last day, MexiCali Biennial co-curator Daniela Lieja Quintanar will moderate a discussion titled Reflections on Calafia from Indigenous Perspectives. Speakers include Cindi Alvitre, a Gabrieleno-Tongva Indian and Professor of American Indian Studies at California State University Long Beach; multimedia artist Melora Garcia, whose work in the biennial reflects her Yaqui ancestry; indigenous documentarian Pamela J. Peters, who was raised on a Navajo Reservation in Arizona; and Native American educator and advocate Vincent Whipple. As Quintanar told Hyperallergic, she hopes to address questions such as “What other myths and narratives have been erased since the story of Calafia was invented?” and “How do we understand the indigenous land that diverse groups now share, under a continuous colonial project?” The conversation will also explore how the visibility of indigenous artists can be encouraged within the filed of contemporary art.

When: Sunday, January 12, 11am–1pm
Where: Armory Center for the Arts (145 N. Raymond Ave, Pasadena, California)

More info at Armory Center for the Arts

Matt Stromberg is a freelance visual arts writer based in Los Angeles. In addition to Hyperallergic, he has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, CARLA, Apollo, ARTNews, and other publications.