Thursday, February 10, 2011

Venus as a Boy



The real aesthetic experience of the New York World’s Fair of 1939 and 1940 was laid in the Amusement Zone, more precisely, inside a pavilion designed by Salvador Dali and simply called Dream of Venus. It is now recognized as one of the earliest full-scale installation pieces, including sound and performance, which make it one of the first (multi)-media artworks. Inside the “wet” part of the pavilion, there was a large number of objects inside a water tank: clusters of telephone earpieces, typewriters, fireplaces, mummified cows, seaweed turned into chains, etc. The “dry” part had, among several objects, a piano with a woman’s body for the keyboard and was populated basically by “mermaids” clad in lobsters loincloths, providing to visitors a sexually charged environment and, in addition, a powerful introduction to the Surrealistic Movement by its most charismatic figure. (photo: Eric Schaal, “Piano Mannequin”, Interior of Salvador Dali’s “Dream of Venus” pavilion, New York World’s Fair, 1939)

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