A funfair inspired by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud’s theories about dreams - planned for 1920s New York but never realised - has been recreated in the University's Talbot Rice Gallery.
A new show by artist Zoe Beloff includes large distorting mirrors to give the viewer a peek of their id, ego and super-ego, a booth showing dramatised films of dreams and a slideshow of waxwork grotesques.
The exhibition at the University of Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery also includes a scale model of the park’s entrance, complete with the conscious and unconscious domes and a spinning green baby.
The artist grew up in Edinburgh and studied at Edinburgh College of Art before moving to New York in 1980. This is her first solo show in her hometown.
The exhibition, A History of Dreams Remains to be Written, is based upon sketches and writings of Albert Grass, a funfair designer and founder of the Coney Island Psychoanalytic Society.
In 1909 Freud visited Dreamland, a funfair on New York’s Coney Island, during his only visit to the US. In 1926 Grass founded the society to explore his ideas, and proposed the construction of a theme park shaped by Freud’s writings on dreams. It was never built. One fairground owner described his designs as too “prurient”.
Ms Beloff discovered a series of films at a New York flea market. They featured the society’s members re-enacting their dreams. She also found Grass’ designs and set about building aspects of his version of Dreamland.
The scale model features a circular track on which a Train of Thought to carry visitors; a Dome of the Unconscious, where surreal cartoon images are projected; and the Psychic Censor, represented by a green baby doll sitting atop a tower.
The Talbot Rice Gallery will be transformed to represent a Coney Island fairground from the 1920s, complete with vintage signs and memorabilia.
In the Upper Gallery, Ms Beloff will premiere a new video work. The Days of The Commune is a restaging of a play by Bertold Brecht about the Fourth French Revolution that took place in Paris in 1871. Ms Beloff filmed the play in New York using protesters from the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The Georgian Gallery will host a series of paintings by Serge Charchoune (1888-1975). Born in Russia but resident in Paris for most of his life, Charchoune worked in a variety of styles, from studies of religious figures to bright abstracts.
Photograph copyright Chris Park, Talbot Rice Gallery.
This article was published on Dec 5, 2012