How to Read El Pato Pascual: Disney’s Latin America and Latin America’s Disney is an attempt to engage with the idea that there are no clean boundaries in art, culture, and geography, and to deconstruct how such notions are formed and disputed. For over seventy-five years, the Walt Disney Company has continuously looked to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America for content, narratives, and characters, beginning with Donald Duck’s first role in the Mexican-themed Don Donald (1937). The 1971 text by Chilean scholars Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart—Para leer al Pato Donald—considered Disney comic books as a form of cultural imperialism, and the curators have used its arguments as a starting point to show that Disney cannot be seen as something simply exported to the rest of the Americas, and passively received. Like any other cultural force or mythology in Latin America, Disney imagery has always been quickly reinterpreted, assimilated, adapted, cannibalized, syncretized, and subverted in popular culture and the fine arts.
Spanning painting, photography, graphic work, drawing, sculpture, and video, as well as folk art and vernacular objects, joint exhibitions at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House and the Luckman Fine Arts Complex at Cal State LA explore this history and the ways Latin American artists have responded to, played with, re-appropriated, and misappropriated Disney iconography.