Interviews

Camille Rose Garcia Discusses the Dark Side of Disney

By David Jenison

PRØHBTD fave and cannabis enthusiast Camille Rose Garcia is a punk rock-inspired artist creating some of the best pop surrealist paintings today. Garcia, having once lived in the shadow of Disneyland in Southern California, admits to being influenced by the Mouse Empire, and her illustrated art books include such Disney-related titles as The Saddest Place on Earth, Tragic Kingdom and Cinderella or The Little Glass Slipper. PRØHBTD spoke with Garcia to learn more about the dark role Mickey played in her life.

What does Disney mean to you?

Growing up in the suburbs, I personally saw a lot of darkness with alcoholism, domestic abuse, addiction and other hidden problems. Going to Disneyland was a release, but I could see a representation of the frightening elements. [Walt] Disney pulled from global fairytales to do his movies, so they are representative—the witch, the old crone, the villains—all that stuff is in there. I think as a child that resonated with me. I always loved a good villain. I love a good horror movie. I always saw that part in Disneyland, and I don't know why. Every interview and representation we have of Walt Disney shows him as a very cheerful, upbeat guy, but he was not afraid to pull some of those ancient layers of meaning. I don't know if that part in particular resonated with him, but it was certainly there. My 2016 art show Phantasmacabre was the embrace of that dark side: the horror, the pain, the beauty, everything together. I wanted to use layered symbols of fairy tales and tarot cards—like the way [Alejandro] Jodorowsky uses layered symbolism—to tell a more personal narrative.

Do most Disney stories tie back to ancient culture?

Yeah, that's really what I try to explore and what I'm fascinated with. I feel there is a more ancient language, and there are little traces of it left for us to discover. It's in our stories, and if we're lucky enough to have any remnants of ancient cultures and their symbolism, we see it repeated over and over.

I found this Maya myth with a magic mirror, dwarves and this cup, like a magic goblet, and I was a little bit floored. When you find these crossovers and elements that relate to magic, a lot of times it's a mirror or a pool. To me, that represents entering another dimension, which we also have with Alice in Wonderland, through the looking-glass portal. We have Cinderella. We have all these fairy tales, and there's a morality imposed on us about femininity and getting married, but then there's this other magic in there. What is that more ancient language? What are these ancient symbols about?

Again, I think Alejandro Jodorowsky touches on this and probably phrases it better than I can in terms of what these symbols mean, what are the deeper archetypes and what's the story of humanity. Another thing that happens is reoccurring patterns. In this show, there are lots of recurring elements and patterns displayed in a symmetry as well, so you have like a Rorschach [test] vibe going on. I like that reoccurring pattern in our folk tales as well.

Nice.

There are no answers. Only exploration.

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