The Mexicali/Calexico desert border region is devoid of any substantial tourist economy. Yet the frequent and mundane process of border crossing by locals is unalienable from the sprawling arrangements of kitchy souvenirs that line the border fence–an ironic intermingling of cartoon characters, catholic figurines, ethnic caricatures, giant beer mugs, and Aztec calanders which beg the question: A souvenir of what and for whom?
Autoturista is an installation that draws upon visual, tangible, and sonic artifacts from the Mexicali/Calexico border crossing in exploring the contradictory presence of the souvenir in a tourist-less border region. The mundane and tedious process of crossing is re-conceived as an endlessly recursive act whose artifacts evidence varied cultural appropriations and incorporations.
The process of collection took place sporadically over the span of several months, and could be thought of as a form of tourism. The collected souvenirs, field recordings, and video footage were traces of varied traversals and encounters within the Mexicali/Calexico border crossing. The assemblage of these artifacts rendered the border a palimpsest of ghostly circulations, embodied by a multitude of faces: human, mythological, anxious, naive, menacing, and invisible.
Autoturista was exhibited at the Digital Arts & New Media 2006 MFA Exhibition.