Fellini's Dreams at the Auditorium

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I had the weirdest dream the other night – a Shetland pony leaped out of my bedroom wardrobe and clopped towards the kitchen, out through the French doors and onto the balcony, where I caught up with it devouring the lavender plant! Okay, so I admit there's really nothing very complicated to analyse here – I'd just pruned the lavender, in fact, and had also, just that evening, watched the wonderful John Cassavetes movie Love Streams, where in one scene Gena Rowlands brings two miniature horses inside a house! So why am I suddenly blogging (heaven help us) about my dreams? No, I haven't gone all Jungian...but I have been paying closer attention to my dreams since visiting the exhibition dedicated to the dreams of Federico Fellini which just closed at the Auditorium in Rome - Fellini oniricon - Il libro dei miei sogni (The Book of My Dreams).

From 1960 until 1982 Fellini kept a visual notebook of all his dreams in two ledgers, as well as loose addition pages, some of which are dated as late as 1990. Entirely private affairs kept at the suggestion of his Jungian analyst and never intended for publication they are consequently the closest we can come to really understanding Fellini's creative processes and the influence of the psyche and dreams on his work. Consisting predominantly of large digital prints and enlargements taken from the books – sadly, given the nature of the material, there were only a few, loose page originals on display – the exhibition was a complete delight. The sheer spontaneity of the drawings, particularly those in bright strokes of felt-tip colours, was very apparent, whilst the neat, hand-written explanatory notes, were equally fascinating. I particularly enjoyed the section devoted to mini-portraits of contemporary figures who peopled his dreams. Fellini, it would seem, was a consummate caricaturist, and even self-portraitist.

Nightmares covered a sizeable amount of the notebooks too, with an eerie and obsessive focus on collapsing towers, which to a post 9/11 generation were rather unsettling. The final explosion at the end of Michelangelo Antonioni's masterpiece Zabriskie Point appears as a background to another drawing with both directors depicted in conversation in the foreground. Least surprising, perhaps, were the dozens of corpulent, large breasted women throughout the exhibition – the women one might easily describe as Fellinesque!