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Aztec to Hi-Tech: A New USC Art Exhibit Examines the Border Culture of ‘Bajalta’

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Einar and Jamex de la Torre’s sketch of their “Colonial Atmosphere,” a mixed-and multi-media installation commissioned for the “Mixed Feelings” show, on view at USC Fisher Gallery Sept. 4 through Dec. 7.

For all the grief it poses illegal crossers, the U.S.-Mexico border is a fiction. This according to a new exhibition, “Mixed Feelings: Art and Culture in the Postborder Metropolis,” opening Sept. 4 at USC’s Fisher Gallery.

Featuring commissioned pieces by 15 contemporary artists, “Mixed Feelings” demonstrates the curators’ contention that “Bajalta” California is one continuous urban region. As far as cultural product is concerned, the border is not only porous, it’s all but invisible.

The artists � selected because they were already addressing complex border issues in their work � are: Laura Alvarez, Mariana Botey, Mark Bradford, Einar and Jamex de la Torre, Rita Gonzalez and Jesse Lerner, Barbara Jones, Joe Lewis, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Milena Muzquiz, Rub�n Ortiz Torres, Marcos Ramirez ERRE, and Norman Yonemoto.

The works, on view through Dec. 7, include sculptural installation, photography, animation, performance and film/video. They range from a giant Olmec head/lunar module by the De la Torre brothers to Amalia Mesa-Bains’ vision of the Rio Grande, made of crushed safety glass.

The show is jointly sponsored by the USC Fisher Gallery and USC Southern California Studies Center (SC2). It was curated by SC2’s Michael Dear and Gustavo Leclerc.

Two years in the making, the project brought together artists and cultural scholars in multiple work sessions held in Mexicali, Tijuana and Los Angeles. A bilingual catalogue will accompany the exhibit. A book further exploring the “post-border metropolis” is forthcoming in 2003.

Dear, a professor of geography, characterizes the “post-border metropolis” as any region that supercedes national boundaries: “Though some of the most advanced forms of the condition are to be found here, in ‘Bajalta,’” Dear said, “it is not confined to a political line on the map. It goes across America � all its cities and towns.

“The rule of the day is hybridity, not homogeneity. We’re simply ahead of the curve � a prototype of the future,” he said.

Fisher Gallery Director Selma Holo concurs: “I’m personally excited by this project,” she said, “because it is resolutely turned to the future. It persistently invites us to understand contemporary society through the lens of art and to confront what art is predicting or imagining for our collective future.”

The USC Fisher Gallery is in Harris Hall, 823 Exposition Blvd., on the USC University Park campus. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.

Admission to the exhibition is free. Call (213) 740-4561 or visit for more information.

Press preview is Monday, Aug. 26, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and by appointment.

Contact: Inga Kiderra (213/740-6156).

“Mixed Feelings” Related Events

Unless otherwise noted, admission is free. RSVP to Jeanette La Vere at (213) 740-5537.

Tuesday, Sept. 10, noon to 1 p.m.

Gustavo Leclerc, director, Border Cultures Program at USC’s Southern California Studies Center, presents a curator’s walkthrough.

Tuesday, Oct. 1, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Sergio Mu�oz-Sarmiento, adjunct professor, USC School of Fine Arts, addresses the current practices and strategies used by artists on the border region.

Saturday, Oct. 5, noon to 3 p.m.

“Families at Fisher,” part of the 2002 Los Angeles Arts Open House, features music by the USC Thornton School of Music’s ELF Ensemble, art making, storytelling, face painting, tours, and refreshments.

Saturday, Oct. 26, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Genevieve Barrios Southgate, director of outreach, Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, presents a hands-on “Day of the Dead” sugar-skull workshop for adults. There is a $10 materials fee payable to the instructor. Class size limited to 30.

Wednesday, Nov. 6, noon to 1 p.m.

Artist’s talk with Rub�n Ortiz Torres.

Saturday, Nov. 9, 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Family art workshop, led by Michael Cano.

Wednesday, Nov. 20, 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Artist’s talk with Amalia Mesa-Bains.

Tuesday, Dec. 3, noon to 1 p.m.

Artist’s talk with Mariana Botey.

Border Film Festival

Featuring films that explore the dynamic, complex and sometimes uneasy relationship between Mexico and the United States in the border region, the festival is co-sponsored by the Consulate of Mexico in Los Angeles and the division of critical studies in the USC School of Cinema-Television. All films are subtitled in English. The films screen in USC’s Lucas Hall, Room 108. Discussions with the filmmakers (subject to availability) to follow.

Thursday, Sept. 19, 7 p.m.

“Frontierland/Fronterilandia” by Jesse Lerner and Rub�n Ortiz Torres (1995)

Thursday, Oct. 10, 7 p.m.

“Uneasy Neighbors/Vecinos desconfiados” by Paul Espinosa (1990)

Thursday, Oct. 31, 7 p.m.

“Back and Forth/De �da y vuelta” by Salvador Aguirre (2000)

Thursday, Nov. 21, 7 p.m.

“The Garden of Eden/El jard�n del ed�n” by Mar�a Novaro (1994)

Aztec to Hi-Tech: A New USC Art Exhibit Examines the Border Culture of ‘Bajalta’

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