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Dreamland (2014)


Scale model of the amusement park Dreamland at Coney Island on 15th May 1904.

240cm x 122cm, cardboard, various. 

Documentary film with audio composition (narrated by Lily Parmenter).

DREAMLAND opens its gates! Experience the Canals of Venice, the Destruction of Pompeii, coast through Switzerland and watch a REAL fire extinguished by firemen! 20,000 electric lights, the latest progressive machinery and mechanical exhibits. Things that words can scarcely describe, and other things that are difficult to describe. Illuminated at night, it resembles a city in itself. Visitors will find that after getting in it, it will contain many miniature cities.


Early Coney Island amusement parks merged foundations of the travelling fair with elements of the public museum. Entertainment for all of the family with coordinated paths and regulated recreation. A peripheral place enclosing time through the ages. We become separated from the real world; a ‘heterotopia’. Coney Island is regenerated, Dreamland now exists in time on three levels. 1. In 1904; its daily running schedule from morning to evening. 2. In 1904; its exhibits documenting objects of the past and referring a passed time. 3. Existing as a retrospective, through documentary methods.

Exhibited at the Pitzhanger Manor as part of the Cultural Salon 'Living the Dream? How can we Build the Perfect Life': Ultimate fun and entertainment! At theme parks we experience an intense short-lived hedonistic pleasure and are sucked into the multitude of entertaining resources. However, there is an underlying falsity, often swapping real money for tokens; we swap life for fantasy. Dreamland was an invention of ex-Senator William H. Reynolds. The pathways throughout the park were carefully coordinated and by copying and enhancing many existing attractions, Reynolds created something magnificent for it’s time.

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