SOUVENIRS: Montalvo Historical Fabrications & Souvenirs
"The Barbary Coast is the haunt of the low and the vile of every kind. The petty thief, the house burglar, the tramp, the whoremonger, lewd women, cutthroats, murderers, all are found here. Dance-halls and concert-saloons, where blear-eyed men and faded women drink vile liquor, smoke offensive tobacco, engage in vulgar conduct, sing obscene songs and say and do everything to heap upon themselves more degradation, are numerous. Low gambling houses, thronged with riot-loving rowdies, in all stages of intoxication, are there. Opium dens, where heathen Chinese and God-forsaken men and women are sprawled in miscellaneous confusion, disgustingly drowsy or completely overcome, are there. Licentiousness, debauchery, pollution, loathsome disease, insanity from dissipation, misery, poverty, wealth, profanity, blasphemy, and death, are there. And Hell, yawning to receive the putrid mass, is there also."
Lloyd, Benjamin Estelle (1876). Lights and Shades of San Francisco.
For two months we activated the gallery space, working four days a week on new products labeled with re-examined stories.
Located at the Montalvo Arts Center, a historical site at Villa Montalvo, California, this project presents to the public a souvenir shop that is a "front" for re-examining the complex issues of commerce, empire, and the repackaging of historical narrative. Rough-hewn display tables hold an array of strange and contradictory products such as bottled water ("Hetch-Hetchy Elixir"), false precious stones ("Genuine Faux Fool's Gold"), as well as salvaged remnants of other artists artworks. Viewers are able to peer through and walk around the lattice-like sales counter made of recycled pallets, to see the production space where everything is explicitly made.