DISNEY: THE JOY FACTORY

CaixaForum Madrid will open on July 17th an exhibition dedicated to Disney, where many works of this big-fish of animated films meet since its founding to the present day. After having passed through Barcelona, the collection arrives in the capital along with a program of activities both for adults and children.

With the title "The Art of Telling Stories", the exhibition rescues the origins of Disney, a company created around the passion of its creator, Walter Elias Disney, who began working as a draftsman in the early 20th century. In 1920, he and his brother decided to settle in Hollywood to launch the first large cartoon factory in the world. In those early days, Mickey Mouse was the star, but still in black and white.

Disney has strongly bet on technological innovation. In 1928 his film "The Steam Boat" was the first animated product in which image and sound were perfectly synchronised. The technicolour arrived in 1932, with the short-film "Flowers and trees". The next milestone was a full-length cartoon-film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", which was released just five years later, in 1937.

The childhood of many of us would not have been the same without Disney’s stories. Although in recent years the company has become a giant of the film industry with capacity to acquire the production of other major labels, such as Marvel, the origins were clearly aimed at a kid's audience eager for fun and entertainment. Nor can we forget the impact of Disney on our way of understanding nowadays many classic stories that have been completely transformed to adapt to the tastes and ideology of the company. The factory was also (let's not forget it) a product of its time, emerged in full American economic boom, in a postwar period very sensitive to tragic and dramatic ends that chose to offer a rereading of the stories to become the paradigm of the happiness that they are today.

If there is something to acknowledge on Disney is its ability to create myths. Its proposals have gone far beyond the drawings with which the company grew up, it has transcended borders beyond imagining, and has created an empire close to reaching its first century of trajectory. And as a final touch is its founder, who died in 1966, around which emerged one of the most widespread urban legends of our time: that his body was cryopreserved awaiting new technological advances to revive it. A way to make the fantasy eternal.

 

Among the specialised professional profiles that we find in the cultural sector, and more specifically, in the field of visual arts, one of the most recent occupations is that of the curator. The ‘80s put attention on the role of the artist, with its innovative character and the enhancement of its figure as an essential articulator of creative proposals, while the end of the century moved the interest towards the exhibition centres themselves and their work as custodians of current production and as spaces to accommodate all proposals. The change of millennium strongly introduced in this panorama the role of the curator. Perhaps together with a social identity crisis, perhaps with the complexity that contemporary projects are currently acquiring, the need for building, articulating and delving into artistic discourses became evident.

Although the functions entrusted to this profession are not entirely new, since previously they belonged to conservatives, critics or experts according to the themes, the role has gained solidity because it combines all these purposes while allowing the specialisation of other professionals in their fields of competence. Now, as some curators themselves point out, the genuine spirit of this figure, who was born to facilitate the understanding of the discourse, create narratives within a sometimes chaotic and scattered context, mediate between the works and the spectator and create bridges between contemporary art and society.

The art of our day raises a multitude of unknowns for the visitor who must face proposals many times away from the aesthetic standards, which gives way to uncertainty and confusion; but, in turn, these works employ a closer language, materials and even compositions detached from the sophistication and the technical display of yesteryear, something that, far from favouring proximity to the message, generates some distancing. What we have just described is part of the very essence of current art. The questioning of the formalist guidelines and the recourse to tangible elements that are more utilitarian than embellishing are the new criteria of creation, where, above all, the message to be conveyed stands out.

Likewise, another inherent characteristic of the work of our time is the artists' concern for more immediate themes, for social, political and economic issues that seek to create a narrative and conceptual revulsion, leaving behind the aesthetic priority or, rather, making of the message its own aesthetic. In this context, strange as it may seem, contemporary creation encounters a linguistic barrier hindering the viewer's understanding. And to this circumstance, the abundant current production is added, covering a wide range of themes that are nothing more than a transcript of our diverse and globalised society.

The curator helps to facilitate this understanding by articulating a coherent discourse that allows the grouping of related ideas to set up the message. This requires to have an in-depth knowledge of the current state of the art, the lines of work of the creators, the most recent aesthetic proposals and the real demands of society to bridge the dialogue and allow the approach to art. If art deals with the same issues that concern us all, how can we not share its postulates? Cultural mediation requires the work of the curators to open a small window for reflection and to enable a space for exchange and idea generation. We share the thought that José Guirao expressed in a recent interview: "The curator is someone who reveals something new, and it would be a mistake for curators to become managers."

Understood this way curator’s role, many institutions have joined the trend of creating specific calls for new professionals to give light to their proposals. Let us remember, as an example, the call "Unpublished" of La Casa Encendida, or "Curator wanted", of the Community of Madrid or the call of Curating of La Caixa.