Exhibitions - Buenos Vecinos

Catalina Schliebener Muñoz
Buenos Vecinos

05.19.24 – 01.19.25

Installation view, Catalina Schliebener Muñoz, "Buenos Vecinos," 2024. Photo: Hai Zhang.

In Buenos Vecinos, which translates to “good neighbors,” Catalina Schliebener Muñoz confronts the impact of two Walt Disney animated films: Saludos Amigos (1942) and Los Tres Caballeros (1944). Both films emerged from Disney’s state-sponsored research trips to South and Central American nations as part of The Good Neighbor Policy, which sought to discourage Nazi influence and improve the United States’ public image in Latin America following its numerous military invasions throughout the early 20th century. Disney and his team of artists toured Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, and Mexico to generate visual motifs and storylines for recognizable characters like Donald Duck and Goofy, as well to create new characters, songs, and dances based on local customs and archetypes. 


Schliebener Muñoz examines how these films functioned as a form of soft power, enlisting children’s media towards the economic and geopolitical interests of the United States. Through installation, collage, sculpture, and murals, the artist subverts reductive and exoticized representations of Latin American cultures in the films to center its secondary characters and rebellious underdogs. Schliebener Muñoz also contends with Disney’s depictions of gender, sexuality, race, and Indigeneity by appropriating and fragmenting the films’ imagery to create critical narratives of resistance. Acknowledging the capacity of stories to shape value systems, the exhibition employs mirroring, queer coding, ambiguity, and humor to challenge the imposed boundaries between the real and fictional, natural and synthetic, spectacular and grotesque. 


As World War II gave way to the Cold War, the United States abandoned Pan-American unity to support coups and dictatorships in many of the countries depicted in Disney’s films. Schliebener Muñoz incorporates archival materials that address the aftermath of The Good Neighbor Policy, U.S. interventionism, and imperialist ideology through the history of the Queens Museum’s site. This building hosted the former United Nations, where decisions ranged from the 1947 partition of Palestine to the creation of UNICEF, and is also located on the grounds of the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair where Disney premiered the “it’s a small world” attraction. For Schliebener Muñoz, this context becomes integral to understanding the legacy of Disney’s films alongside hostile foreign policies, and how the imagination of children became a vehicle for the projection of American innocence and exceptionalism on the global stage.


Buenos Vecinos is curated by Lindsey Berfond, Assistant Curator and Studio Program Manager.


Catalina Schliebener Muñoz (b. Santiago, Chile, 1980) is an In Situ Artist Fellow at the Queens Museum. They earned a Bachelor of Philosophy and a Bachelor of Visual Arts from the Universidad de Arte y Ciencias Sociales (ARCIS; Santiago, Chile). Schliebener Muñoz has exhibited their work internationally, including solo shows at Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, PA (2024), Bureau of General Services—Queer Division, New York, NY (2022, 2016); Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA (2021); Centro Cultural de España, Santiago, Chile (2011), among others. They have shown in recent group exhibitions at the National Academy of Design, New York, NY (2023); Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York, NY (2022, 2021, 2018); Children’s Museum of Manhattan, New York, NY (2022); Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY (2021), among others. Schliebener Muñoz is the recipient of an Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) Fellowship from the Bronx Museum of the Arts (2018) and a Queer Artist Fellowship from the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art (2017). They are an educator with extensive experience from early childhood to undergraduate education, and currently facilitate gender and sexuality trainings for the Early Childhood Professional Development Institute at the City University of New York (CUNY). Schliebener Muñoz lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.


Catalina Schliebener Muñoz: Buenos Vecinos is made possible in part by lead support from the Mellon Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Ford Foundation, and a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant. Additional support is provided by the Queens Museum Exhibitions Circle.


The Queens Museum is housed in the New York City Building, which is owned by the City of New York.


The Museum is supported, in part, by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with Mayor Eric Adams, the Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, and the New York City Council under the leadership of Speaker Adrienne E. Adams.


Major funding is generously provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Ford Foundation, Hearst Foundations, Jerome Foundation, Lambent Foundation, MacMillan Family Foundation, Mellon Foundation, E.A. Michelson Philanthropy, New York Community Trust, Richmond County Savings Foundation, and Rockefeller Brothers Fund.