CALAFIA: Manifesting the Terrestrial Paradise
CALAFIA: Manifesting the Terrestrial Paradise explored 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 The Sergas of Esplandian (The Adventures of Esplandian), the story of the great queen, Calafia and her army of Amazons, is told with that wonder, that is not the only place in California, a region which spans both sides of the US and Mexico border, but also as a reflection 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 sets the foundation for the continued mythos of its people and its land.
The parallels between the myth of Calafia and current day inhabitants of the great state of California do not 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 glamor 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 criticize 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 critic 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.
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