Satanic Panic Series IV

Collage on board
36 x 36 x 3.5 in
91.5 x 91.5 x 8.5 cm

At the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019, I started a new series called Satanic Panic, on which I am continuing to work. This series makes reference to the moral panic and collective hysteria that originated in the United States in the 1980s, spreading through many parts of the world in the late 1990s.

What particularly interests me about this cultural phenomenon is that in many cases those accused of committing crimes were queer individuals working as caretakers for children, while at the same time this collective hysteria was a camp expression of the culture in which we lived in those years. The Panic drew on cold war mythologies, misogynist ideas surrounding care work, racist tropes about outsiders, and conservative responses to the AIDS crisis. I am particularly interested in how some of these paranoias are replicating again today.

As a queer, brown, South American immigrant living in the US and working in the field of early childhood education, I am particularly interested in this cultural phenomenon and its connections to the present. I’m also very interested in how this paranoia reached into mass media and its products (movies, cartoons, games, etc.), which were placed under intense and sometimes devastating scrutiny that often suggested they contained secret and hidden messages intended to corrupt children.

My Satanic Panic series is comprised of two types of work: collages/murals, and installations made by juxtaposing objects such as porcelain figurines and articulated plastic characters from different Disney and Pixar movies.

The collages are made by combining fragments of Disney books published in the 1990s (such as Pinocchio, Dumbo, Little Mermaid, and The Beauty and The Beast) with portions of pedagogical books from the “Under Five” collection of Ladybird Books created in the 1960s and 70s. The Ladybird Books are nonfiction books that offered educators and parents manuals to create various games and activities for young children. I am particularly interested in the pedagogical nature of these illustrations and how subtly these activities and games replicate the gender, sexuality, race, and class stereotypes of the adult world. Through clipping and editing operations, I select certain fragments that interact with the equally regulated fantasy world of Disney. In the case of the Disney stories, I am interested in stories containing human or animal characters that represent a monstrosity — mermaids, beasts, physical deformities, wooden automatons, etc.

© 2020 Catalina Schliebener