Saturday, February 20, 2016

Disney and Dali: Architects of the Imagination

Although I refer to my friend Maggie as my bridge partner, the characterization has become less apt as time passes. Admittedly, we do arrange our visits so we can play in a tournament in our quest for those elusive gold points. (Don't ask.) But we also spend lots of time exploring, and Maggie's visits to Florida always include a stop at the Dali Museum. This year was no exception.

With Salvador and Walt
While the Dali has a very cool permanent collection (best explored with one of their docents), the Museum also brings in special exhibits by other artists or creatives. I was a bit disappointed by both the Warhol and Picasso exhibits, which had great potential but fell a bit flat. But the current exhibit highlighting the collaborations and parallels between Dali and Walt Disney is a real winner.

Our time was limited, so I didn't have a chance to explore the whole exhibit. Luckily, Maggie had wandered off and I did a quick spin through the show to find her. I came upon a line at the exit to the show which, of course I got on. (With the Disney theme, I thought it appropriate that I had to spend some time in a queue.)
Dali's Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet's "Angelus"
The line was for a virtual reality experience that brought viewers into Dali's imagined world of his 1935 work Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet's "Angelus." Three seats were set up in front of large screens. When a viewer sat down, a set of goggles and headphones were placed on her head. To get started, you position the dot in the goggles on a white ball on the screen. From there, you navigate Dreams of Dali by moving from dot to dot. It was INCREDIBLE. The three minutes flew by, and I wanted to get right back on line to do it again. (To get a sense of what the experience is like, watch the videos in this link.)  But time was short and there was more to see.

Chronos with Dahlia as nose and eyebrows
The exhibit also contained clips from "Destino," a project Dali and Disney embarked upon in 1945. Dali and Disney studio artist John Hench spent eight months storyboarding the film before Disney pulled the plug. (Although the official reason for the project falling apart was that WWII affected Disney's bottom line adversely, it's not a stretch to imagine that Walt found surrealism a bit too out there for his--and Disney followers'--taste.)

Walt's nephew Roy discovered the project in 1999 and decided to bring it to fruition. Although both Dali and his wife Gala were dead by this time, Gala's journals yielded information about what Salvador had in mind. And illustrator John Hench was still alive to help bring the storyboards to life.

"Destino" is set to a ballad by Armando Dominguez and tells the story of the god Chronos' ill-fated love for the human Dahlia. You won't be alone if you can't quite follow the story line of this short film. But it's both beautiful and strange and fascinating to watch. (Click here to watch the film, which was nominated for the 2003 Academy Award for Best Short Animated Film.)   

The exhibit runs through June 12 and is well worth a visit to St. Petersburg to see. 

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