Calafia was a warrior queen who ruled over a kingdom of black women living on the Island of California. She was a pagan who raised an army of women warriors and sailed from California with a large flock of trained griffons to join Muslims in a battle against Christians defending Constantinople. In the siege, the griffons harm enemy and friendly forces. They were soon withdrawn. Calafia and her ally Radiaro fought in single combat against the Christian leaders, a king and his son the knight Esplandián. Calafia was bested and taken prisoner- she later converted to Christianity. Eventually, she married a cousin of Esplandián and returned with her army to California.
(Queen Calafia was a character in the novel entitled Las sergas de Esplandián (The Adventures of Esplandián), written by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo around 1500.)
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.