The Frozen Trojan Horse

The words that define us must also come from us.

The words that define us must also come from us.
Our birth is a game of chance, how we talk about ourselves is a choice

This project emerged from the desire to connect with other people who identify as immigrant. I wanted the ice cream cart to break the ice and offer us a place to hang out and talk candidly. A place that was familiar and non threatening. The idea of the cart came to me during an exploratory visit to the Tijuana/San Diego border. When I started doing my research for a project that is still on the back burner called la Linea.

The Tijuana/San Diego border crossing is referred to, by locals, as “La Línea”. Not only in reference to the border but more so regarding the 25 lanes (líneas) of northbound traffic waiting to cross from Mexico into the United States.

This particular border is the busiest physical border in the world with upwards of 100,000 people crossing daily. Thousands more are denied entry and become permanent additions to the City of Tijuana and it’s workforce. This work force has attracted the attention of multinational companies who are looking for unskilled, inexpensive labor for their factories. Immigrants coming to this region seeking entry into the USA are not only Mexican nationals but also people from Central America, the Caribbean and Africa. Tijuana is a physical and psychological space in which to study the relationship between immigration, globalization, ethnic and racial identity.

Whether on a bus or a private car, northbound travelers endure hours of smog, gridlock and bumper to bumper traffic. Many of the individuals who cross the border routinely form part of Southern California’s blue collar workforce [as nannies, gardeners, service industry and construction workers, etc.], they are a huge participant in the world’s economy and are the foundation of a global capitalist construct. This comes at a huge personal price to these individuals, for a large portion of the day, life is limited to what is possible within the confines of the vehicle. There is little time, if any, for anything other than commuting and working. But amid the gridlock and the heat there are food vendors who manage to make life a bit more tolerable. And everyone wants ice cream!

Hence the Frozen Trojan Horse! Disguised as an ice cream cart. The Frozen Trojan horse is a mobile art studio. We bring this cart into public spaces and create a collaborative interdisciplinary work of art. The public is invited to print a self-portrait using a generic facial line drawing that originates from a game of chance (Mexican Lotería a form of pictorial bingo) and via words, drawings and collage they add to the image to express personal racial and ethnic identifiers.

Art is utilized here as an opportunity to initiate dialogue. We bring the art making process to the public space via the ice cream cart, to connect with as many differing points of view as possible. The goal is to collect, via prints and oral stories, complicated narratives related to race and ethnicity.

In 2022 I received the honor of becoming a California Arts Council Fellow. The monetary award that came with the fellowship has been used to create the cart, maintain supplies and pay for travel and equipment.

So far the Frozen Trojan Horse has been activated on the campus of SFAI, San Jose State University, Santa Clara University and Stanford University. On the streets of San Francisco and San Jose. In private Northern California venues such as the Thompson Art Gallery, The Rascuache Liberation Front concert, the Sanchez Art Center and Root Division. It’s ultimate goal is to travel from north to south visiting all the Missions on the California Coast. While doing this we are ritualistically and performatively decolonizing these focal points of colonization.

So far the Frozen Trojan Horse has visited Mission Dolores, Mission Santa Clara, Mission San. Jose, and Carmel.