Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dreamy Films

The connection between movies and dreams is a much studied topic. Artist Zoe Beloff has fun with this relationship in her exhibition "Dreamland: The Coney Island Amateur Psychoanalytic Society and its Circle 1926-1972," which is on display at the Coney Island Museum through March. Like all of Beloff's work, the exhibition blurs the lines between fact and fiction, and to get the work we have to give up trying to figure out what's what and just enjoy it. Aside from some ephemera and found objects, the crux of this exhibition are several short films made by members of an "amateur psychoanalytic society" during the greater part of the middle of the last century. As the wall text of the exhibition points out, Freud visited Coney Island on his first and only trip to the US. These Coney Island inhabitants and followers of Freud sought to analyze their dreams through their filmic depictions of what they dreamt, as the "dream is always the disguised fulfillment of a suppressed wish," according to Freud. With the dawn of the Cine Kodak movie camera and Kodak 16mm safety film in 1923, amateur filmmaking took off in the same year that the society was founded. According to Beloff, the society held a dream film competition every year and some of the winners are featured here. Among them are several films displayed on 3 digital monitors and 2 16mm films projected in a small screening room. They are varied and entertaining. And well worth the 99 cent admission to the museum!

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