The Architecture of Staged Realities

(Re)constructing Disney
7 rue Ferrère, 33000 Bordeaux Map
Tue+Thu–Sun 11 am–18, Wed 11 am–8 pm

The exhibition examines Walt Disney’s cultural, architectural and urban legacy. A total work of art of late capitalism, the Disney universe is much more than a trademark. It is one of the main vehicles of the Western collective unconscious in the 20th century.

Since the first animated feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), generations around the world have grown up with the norms, values, and models of the Disney stories.
As the creator of an entertainment empire—present not only in the media, film, and entertainment industries but also in urban planning—Walt Disney (1901-1966) imagined fantastic worlds where reality is staged. But what lies behind the seemingly innocent world of his films, theme parks, and products? How does his storytelling influence our identity or our sense of belonging? The exhibition The Architecture of Staged Realities takes on the legacy of Walt Disney as the mirror of our contemporary society and cultural production, both in terms of identity production as well as of built environment.

In Disney’s worlds—whether real or imagined—everything is meticulously constructed.
His creations have inevitably been influenced by his worldviews. In particular, they have long propagated the idea of a uniform and standardised identity, with the ‘traditional’ family at its heart, and have reinforced gender roles and stereotypes. Even the very image of its creator has been carefully reworked throughout the company’s history.

Like our imagination, our built environment has also been influenced by the pixie dust of the company. The Disney parks have been incubators of major urban design principles still used in our cities: from the first Disneyland in Anaheim (1955) to the futuristic visions for Epcot (1982) to the more recent Shanghai Disneyland (2016). Looking in particular at the creation of Disneyland Paris and Val d’Europe, The Architecture of Staged Realities is a second chapter of the exhibition of the same name shown at the Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam in 2021, adapted to the French context. It presents works by architects, artists, and researchers such as Persijn Broersen and Margit Lukács, Frank Gehry, Pete Fung, Bertrand Lavier, Claes Oldenburg, Clara Lezla, Pilvi Takala and Kem Weber.