AboutTo celebrate the centennial of Freud's visit to the great amusement parks of Coney Island, in 1909, the Coney Island Museum in New York staged an exhibition in 2009 that brought to life the world of the Coney Island Amateur Psychoanalytic Society, along with the visionary ideas, of its founder, Albert Grass. For this exhibition, Zoe Beloff has archived a collection of films made my members of the Coney Island Amateur Psychoanalytic Society and edited a book of the Society's history.
The group were made up of working people who could not afford to be professional analysts, but were none the less filled with the desire to participate in one of the great intellectual movements of the 20th century. Many of them wished to tap into the power for self expression afforded by technologies like home movie cameras that were newly accessible to ordinary people in the 1920s. Each year the Society held a competition in which members re-enacted their dreams on film and analysed them. Their enterprise was inspired by Freud's proposition in The Interpretation of Dreams": that in dreams, ideas and wishes are dramatized as "mental pictures". The films can be thought of as a record of the hopes, fears and fantasies of a changing cross section of those that made up the fabric of Coney Island through the 20th century, from immigrant Jews and Italians to wealthy bohemians to young gay men exploring their sexuality in the 1960s.