Zoe Beloff (b. 1958)
The Dream Films: The Praying Mantis (2009)
In 2009 the Coney Island Museum invited Zoe Beloff to create an exhibition to celebrate the centennial of Sigmund Freud's visit to Coney Island. She titled the show "Dreamland: The Coney Island Amateur Psychoanalytic Society and its Circle 1926-1972.
The Society might be considered something of an urban myth. They were mostly working people from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Beloff describes them as "visionaries, who, undeterred by lack of finances or professional training, decided to explore their inner life, to share their dreams with each other and in doing so attempted to free the psyche from the constraints of class and of cultural and sexual mores of their time.
In 1926, the Society's first president and founder Albert Grass proposed that members attempt to recreate their dreams on film and analyze them. Here is an excerpt of his speech from the first prize giving ceremony, "Sigmund Freud has written that the royal road to the unconscious lies in our dreams. Each night we are plunged into a fantastical world as amazing as anything we see in Saturday night Photoplays. But how to capture the most effervescent of experiences so that they can be properly analyzed and recorded for future generations? The answer, my friends, lies in our new tools, the Cine-Kodak Camera and the Kodascope Projector enabling us to reenact our dreams on film, producing a perfect reproduction of our mind's nocturnal wanderings, the strange adventures of our souls. As it will surely be soon with sound and color to perfect the illusion, we will open up our darkest dreams to the bright light of reason"
These videos are being made available for noncommercial and educational use only.
All rights to this recorded material belong to Zoe Beloff. Used with permission of Zoe Beloff.