Magallanes’ work is influenced by the social and environmental issues of his upbringing in a Mexican-American Barrio east of downtown Los Angeles. Conceptually the work is based on identity and the praxis of the oppressed finding what José Rabasa calls “elsewhere” rather than allowing for an identity that is based on the “othering” of cultural and historical signifiers. Magallanes finds this an important basis for the work as it allows the work to exist as an object that is not reactionary to western culture, but rather autobiographical of a parallel experience. In doing so, it subverts the positionality of the gaze of the dominant culture.
While set against the current theater of politics in which xenophobia has replaced the “good neighbor”, recent works confront the fear of the “other”. It examines the parallel existence of those affected by an institutional racism that disallows their full participation in western society while simultaneously questioning what constitutes an “American” through the interrogation of cultural and coded iconography and visual rhetoric.