Fiction Talks #2

Hubert Czerepok

Zoe Beloff’s “The Coney Island Amateur Psychoanalytic Society and Its Circle, 1926-1972” is a series of films that offers a fascinating insight into the inner lives of the people of Coney Island. The films were discovered in the archives of the society and have been exhibited publicly since 2009. Each year, members of the society would hold a competition in which they re-enacted their dreams on film and analyzed them, creating a unique record of the hopes, fears, and fantasies of the society’s members. Through the lens of the society’s dream films, viewers are taken on a journey through the changing social fabric of Coney Island. From the immigrant Jews and Italians who made up its early population to the wealthy bohemians of the mid-twentieth century to the young gay men exploring their sexuality in the 1960s, the films offer a snapshot of the diverse community that inhabited this iconic New York neighborhood. Beloff’s films also provide a window into the larger cultural and intellectual movements of the 20th century. The society’s members, while unable to afford professional psychoanalysis, were nonetheless filled with the desire to participate in the intellectual revolution of psychoanalysis. They believed that psychoanalysis would free them from the tyranny of class and cultural and sexual norms, just as they believed that socialism would free them from oppression.

fascinating insight into the inner lives of the people of Coney Island. The films were discovered in the archives of the society and have been exhibited publicly since 2009. Each year, members of the society would hold a competition in which they re-enacted their dreams on film and analyzed them, creating a unique record of the hopes, fears, and fantasies of the society’s members. Through the lens of the society’s dream films, viewers are taken on a journey through the changing social fabric of Coney Island. From the immigrant Jews and Italians who made up its early population to the wealthy bohemians of the mid-twentieth century to the young gay men exploring their sexuality in the 1960s, the films offer a snapshot of the diverse community that inhabited this iconic New York neighborhood. Beloff’s films also provide a window into the larger cultural and intellectual movements of the 20th century. The society’s members, while unable to afford professional psychoanalysis, were nonetheless filled with the desire to participate in the intellectual revolution of psychoanalysis. They believed that psychoanalysis would free them from the tyranny of class and cultural and sexual norms, just as they believed that socialism would free them from oppression.