Gallery Hours: Fridays 2-6 PM
Saturdays & Sundays 1-5 PM
Admission is always free.


Calafia: Manifesting the Terrestrial Paradise

Calafia: Manifesting the Terrestrial Paradise
Dates: Sunday, Oct 6, 2019 -
Sunday, Jan 12, 2020

Gallery Hours: Fridays 2-6 PM
Saturdays & Sundays 1-5 PM
Admission is always free.

Exhibition Opening: Oct 5, 2019
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

The conversations between these artists point to the complex history along the US and Mexico border. Here, California doesn’t end or begin at a border wall.

The early 16th century novel Las Sergas de Esplandian, by Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo, described a mythical California as a rugged island paradise, populated entirely by women, and ruled by the great Black queen Calafia with the help of her army of warriors and their man-eating griffins. This legendary version of California serves as a point of departure to examine the region and its peoples as a collective territory, criss-crossed and scarred by political, psychological, and geological borders. Featuring projects from contemporary artists on both sides of the border, the exhibition weaves urgent questions about feminism, indigenous rights, gentrification and displacement, misogyny, post-colonialism, and resistance movements into and through the current and historical political climate of the region.

Calafia: Manifesting the Terrestrial Paradise is organized by the curatorial team of the MexiCali Biennial: Ed Gomez, Luis G. Hernandez, and Daniela Lieja Quintanar. The MexiCali Biennial is a non-profit, contemporary visual arts organization that focuses on the area encompassing the California and Mexico border as a region of aesthetic production. Originally started as a project critiquing the proliferation of international and regional art biennials, it operates nomadically and may appear at any time and at any location. Its exhibitions appear on both sides of the California/Mexico border through partnerships with arts institutions to showcase both emerging and established artists working in all media. This fall, the MexiCali Biennial brings Calafia: Manifesting the Terrestrial Paradise to the Armory.

Exhibiting Artists
Juan Bastardo, Chelle Barbour, Mely Barragán, Miguel Buenrostro, Chris Christion, Cog•nate Collective, Abigail Raphael Collins, Yutsil Cruz, Nikki Darling & Dean Erdmann, David de Rozas, Melora Garcia, Invasorix, Maya Mackrandilal, Hillary Mushkin, Chinwe Okona, noé olivas, Jeniffer Pereda, Adee Roberson, Mónica Rodríguez, Sandy Rodriguez, Julio M. Romero, Enid Baxter Ryce, Timo Saarelma, Paulina Sánchez, Jessica Sevilla, Amanda Trager & Erik Moskowitz, Diane Williams, Kim Zumpfe



Must-See 2019 Fall Exhibitions in Los Angeles

Datebook: A cross-border show inspired by a mythical California of woman warriors
(Los Angeles Times)

Visions of California That Don’t Begin or End at the Border Wall

Looking at California and Mexico From Indigenous Perspectives

Press Kit

 Exhibition Photos

Exhibition Related Events

Reflections on Calafia from Indigenous Perspectives // Reflexiones Sobre Calafia desde la Perspectiva Indígena
Sunday, January 12, 2020 // Domingo, 12 de enero de 2020
11 am to 1 pm // 11 am a 1 pm

An open discussion for shared reflections around the present, past, and future narratives from the extended region now known as California, US and Baja California, MX.

Una discusión abierta para compartir reflexiones acerca de las narrativas del presente, pasado y futuro de la región extendida ahora conocida como California, EE.UU. y
Baja California, MX.


Past Events

Decolonization Workshop / / Taller Descolonización
Saturday, October 12, 2019 / / Sábado, 12 de octubre de 2019
2 pm to 4 pm / / 2 pm a 4 pm

This workshop invites participants to imagine the impacts of colonization and examine how colonialism works to break and divide indigenous communities. The workshop offers prompts to imagine what happened after 1492.

Este taller invita a los participantes a imaginar los impactos de la colonización y examinar cómo funciona el colonialismo para romper y dividir a las comunidades indígenas. El taller ofrece indicaciones para imaginar la que sucedió después de 1492.

Facilitated by: Janet Martínez, Luis López Resendiz, and Odilia Romero from the FIOB (Frente Indígena de Organizaciones Binacionales)

Facilitado por: Janet Martínez, Luis López Resendiz y Odilia Romero de FIOB (Frente Indígena de Organizaciones Binacionales)

The Invisible 100-mile American Border / / La Invisible Frontera Estadounidense de 100 Millas
Saturday, November 9, 2019 / / Sábado, 9 de noviembre de 2019
2 pm to 4 pm / / 2 pm a 4 pm

Artist and educator Hillary Mushkin will moderate a panel discussion related to her ongoing project of the same title. Invited speakers are Ian Philbaum, Program Director of Innovation Law Lab and Lilian Serrano, Coordinator of Alianza Communitaria and Research Coordinator for the National Latino Research Center, California State San Marcos. Director and co-curator of the MexiCali Biennial Ed Gomez will also give insight into the concept of Calafia. This event is supported by Caltech as part of the Visual Culture Program.

Artista y educadora Hillary Mushkin moderará un panel de discusión relacionado con su proyecto en curso de el mismo título. Los oradores invitados son Ian Philbaum, Director del Programa Laboratorio de Derecho de Innovación y Lilian Serrano, Coordinadora de la Alianza Comunitaria y Coordinadora de Investigación del Centro Nacional de Investigación Latina, California State San Marcos. El director y co-curador de la Bienal Mexicali Ed Gomez también hablará sobre el concepto de Calafia. Este evento cuenta con el apoyo de Caltech como parte del Programa de Cultura Visual.

Screening Night: Ziascope / / Noche de proyección: Ziascope
Thursday, December 5, 2019 / Jueves, 5 de diciembre de 2019
7 pm to 9 pm / / 7 pm a 9 pm

Ziascope is a film by Nikki Darling and Dean Erdmann that is part of a larger, ongoing project dealing with the history of Northern New Mexico via the entryway of Darling’s matrilineal family. The Armijos, a Mexican American family, have been Spanish, then Mexican and now United States citizens, all while never leaving the state.

Ziascope es una película de Nikki Darling y Dean Erdmann que forma parte de un proyecto más amplio y en curso que trata sobre la historia del norte de Nuevo México a través del acceso a la familia matrilineal de Darling. Los Armijos, una familia mexicoamericana, han sido españoles, luego mexicanos y ahora ciudadanos de los estados Unidos, todo sin abandonar el estado.

Drag Queen Storytime // Hora de Cuentos con una Drag Queen
Saturday, December 14, 2019 // Sábado, 14 de diciembre de 2019
12 pm to 4 pm // 12 pm a 4 pm

Drag performer Isabella Xochitl will read excerpts from the children’s book California the Magic Island by Doug Hansen for an all-ages audience. The beautifully illustrated book takes an ecological and historical approach to the story of Calafia, by narrating through native flora and fauna. This event will be followed by an activity led by Orange County-based librarian David Lopez.

La intérprete Drag Isabella Xochitl leerá extractos del libro para niñxs California the Magic Island de Doug Hansen para un público de todas las edades. El libro hermosamente ilustrado adopta un enfoque ecológico e histórico sobre la historia de Calafia, narrado a través de la flora y fauna nativa. Este evento terminará con una actividad dirigida por el bibliotecario del Condado de Orange David López.



Maya Mackrandilal, ANTI/body 9 (Kalifia as Libertas) (2018); Mixed media, 26 x 15 x 11 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Photo by MexiCali Biennial.


Sandy Rodriguez, Gold Sickness, Calafia and U.S. Immigrant Detention Facilities, (2019); Hand-processed watercolor and gold leaf on amate paper; 11 1/2 x 15 3/4 in.; Courtesy of the artist.


Timo Saarelma, photograph of Pico Boulevard from his Night Inside series (2015-2018); 13 x 20 in.; Courtesy the artist.


Enid Baxter Ryce, Ghost Ships 2 (2019); Oil on linen, 33 x 30 in.; Courtesy the artist.


Juan Bastardo, Haters Are Gonna Hate, the Pacific Coast Ungodly Giver in the Gold Rush... (2018); Mixed media sculpture, 48 x 96 x 11 in.; Courtesy the artist; Photo by Ricardo Guzman.


Mely Barragán, Cyclical Warriors (2018); Laser cut on painted plywood, rotating motor; Courtesy the artist.


Top Banner Image: Chris Christion, The Unauthorized Histography of California Vol. 1 (2018); Single channel video, color, sound; 10 mins, 45 sec, Courtesy of the artist and the MexiCali Biennial.

Special thanks to California State University San Bernardino, Betsy Greenberg, and to the friends and supporters of the MexiCali Biennial. Audio equipment for Invasorix courtesy of JD Audio Visual.


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