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"More Real?" wouldn't be true to the spirit of Colbert if it didn't admit that while truthiness can be an ominous development, it can also be a lot of fun. When New Yorker Joel Lederer photographs landscapes created online by visitors to Second Life, a virtual-reality website, it's plain he likes the wikiworld he finds there. Meanwhile, it's hard to keep a straight face in front of Zoe Beloff's Dreamland: The Coney Island Amateur Psychoanalytic Society and Its Circle, 1926--1972. A mad installation of architectural drawings, comic-book pages, old film footage and dubious historical artifacts, it offers the story of Albert Grass. The exhibit tells us that Grass was so inspired by Sigmund Freud's 1909 visit to Coney Island--a visit that really happened--that he drew up elaborate but unrealized plans for Dreamland. The amusement park was designed to walk visitors through the Freudian explanation of dreams via fun-filled pavilions devoted to things like repression and the unconscious, all connected by a Train of Thought. Over time Grass purportedly attracted a circle of amateur Freudians who made home movies to help them analyze their dreams.
Those films look suspiciously as if Beloff, a Scot now based in New York City, cobbled them together from footage discovered at flea markets. Other than Freud, did any of these characters exist? Not a chance--Beloff's installation is a brilliantly funny fiction. It speaks to a paradox that Oscar Wilde identified in "The Decay of Lying" and that Colbert, America's greatest performance artist, has built a career on. Art lies. That's one of the things it does best. And if it does it right, it points to some kind of truth every time.