How do you write a history of a group that has been written out of history? In The Accidental Archives of the Royal Chicano Air Force, world-famous archaeologist La Stef and the clandestine Con Sapos Archaeological Collective track down the "facts" about the elusive RCAF, the Rebel Chicano Art Front that, through an understandable mix-up with the Royal Canadian Air Force, became the Royal Chicano Air Force.
La Stef and her fellow archaeologists document the plight and locura que cura of the RCAF, a group renowned for its fleet of adobe airplanes, ongoing subversive performance stance, and key role as poster makers for the United Farm Workers Union during the height of the Chicano civil rights movement. As the Con Sapos team uncovers tensions between fact and fiction in historical consciousness and public memory, they abandon didactic instruction and strive instead to offer a historiography in which various cultural paradigms already intersect seamlessly and on equal ground. That they often fail to navigate the blurred lines between "objective" Western archival sciences and Indigenous/Chicana/o cosmologies reflects the very human predicament of documenting the histories of complicated New Worlds everywhere. Uniquely blending art history, oral history, cultural studies, and anthropology, The Accidental Archives of the Royal Chicano Air Force suspends historical realities and leaps through epochs and between conversations with various historical figures, both dead and alive, to offer readers an intimate experience of RCAF history.
"What a magnificent project—a blend of curation, art history, archaeology, and, perhaps most important, a book tinged with the trace of ludic savvy, the ‘ludic’ being at the heart of the Royal Chicano Air Force, a playful intervention, an intervening play, both at the same time. The volume archives in book form an artistic performance/event that has not been documented. It does so with vision and acuity and, essential here, with wit! Stephanie Sauer’s gift is to have compiled a working archive that mimes the logic of the Royal Chicano Air Force without overshadowing it in any way."
William A. Nericcio, Director of MALAS, the Master of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences Program, Professor of English and Comparative Literature Chicana/o Studies, San Diego State University, and author of Tex[t]-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the “Mexican” in America
"To make an artist-book to pay homage to the contributions of an artist collective is significant because it has not been attempted within Chicana/o art history. This is an entirely new strategy—unique, original, and witty—that allows for highly detailed accounts of RCAF history. The artist, Stephanie Sauer, is interested in the destruction and creation of history and how archival material is preserved, who decides, and how power informs knowledge production. Her book stands on its own as a work of art, a codex of the RCAF."
Karen Mary Davalos, Professor of Chicana/o studies, Loyola Marymount University, and author of Exhibiting Mestizaje: Mexican (American) Museums in the Diaspora and Yolanda M. López