In a perfect juxtaposition of opening events, the MAK Center (at Schindler's modernist house in West Hollywood) reverses the Regen Projects through line (see below) to instead explore the influence of the US culture on Latin America, taking one of our most recognizable exports, the imagery of Walt Disney, and tracing its path through art, artifact, film and text. (Co-hosted by Cal State Luckman--I haven't made it there yet)
Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Minnie too, stud this carefully curated exhibition which cannot help but plumb the conflicted mind set of Latinos who for years absorbed our popular culture as we confined theirs to Mariachi Bands and salsa. The art of Walt Disney--and his staff-- has been subjected to a huge bibliography of political commentary over the years and this look at the influence on Latin American artists of the reach of his iconography is a strong addition to the conversation. Jesse Lerner, who walked me through the exhibit, told me they took as their point of departure Saludos Amigos, the film Disney made when he was urged to leave Burbank for South America so that the contentious strike of 1941 could finally be settled. (A documentary on this film has also been made by a Disney family member).
When I interviewed Volus Jones, one of the fine Disney animators who self identified as a "Duck specialist"--and a striker--for my Vanity Fair story on the Ink and Paint department (archived here under Writing/Visual Arts), he himself mourned the post-strike era of fear and highly personal political retribution at the studio. All was not golden during the Golden Age.
Two film highlights of the exhibition: a short film riff How to read Donald Duck Redux on his father Ariel Dorfman's longer documentary by his son Rodrigo about the Disney effect in Chile, and Florencia Aliberti's sly Variations on Alice (in Wonderland).
How our American culture, especially our Hollywood culture, has affected the global practice of artists, filmmakers, writers and creatives of all stripes is a topic that can never have enough exploration. Perhaps the balance of power will shift with the extraordinary outpouring of commentary in PST LA/LA.