Program 2: DREAMS and QUESTS


DREAMS AND QUESTS is the second program in the TRANSHUMANCES - ON THE OTHER SIDE series created by curator ARIANE PLANTE. DREAMS AND QUESTS explores the concept of transhumance from a poetic point of view; like a trajectory or a call to somewhere otherworldly, to bring about change. The program features works by John Paizs, Josiane Bernier with Ariane Voineau, Daniel Browne, Amanda Strong with Bracken Hanuse Corlett and Jérémy Comte.

Watch the curator introduction video by Ariane Plante below.

PROGRAM #2 from the series




By: Ariane Plante


If transhumance evokes, by definition, the notion of migration, to me, it also represents, in a more poetic sense, a trajectory, a call to elsewhere, a change. Often born from a desire, a need or a necessity, it ties together or divides liminal areas, temporalities, ecosystems, states, beings, while hinting at the perspective of journeys and quests. A geographic, essential journey; an interior, existential, comforting or even lifesaving quest — transhumance inspires a process and delineates an itinerary, whether physical or intangible. It tells a story.

The Transhumances – On the Other Side series showcases this very personal vision I have of the concept. With the first program, titled Migrations and Travels, I focused on human transhumance in relation with the territory. With this new one, titled Quests and Dreams, I tackle more elusive aspects of the term.

The concept of transhumance has interested me since reading the book Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error (Montaillou village occitan de 1294 à 1324 ) by historian Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie during a Cultural Anthropology class. This monograph depicts peoples' lives in a French village in Haute-Ariège, during the Middle Ages. My discovery of the world of this marginal, heretic community, which practiced seasonal migration along with their cattle, made me want to travel around the world, while also increasing my interest in the very idea of transhumance. Beyond the herds, Occitan mountains, and time travel featured in the book, the concept already filled my dreams. It found an echo within me because the term at once referred to vacation, journey, landscape, seasonal cycles, hiking, the rhythm of nature, but also to change. Transhumance ignited my thirst for the discovery and exploration of natural and human territories, while also becoming the way by which I pursued the quest for meaning that drove the young adult I was at the time.

The idea of transhumance can often become the symbol of a bohemian lifestyle we may aspire to in our youth; at that moment when everything seems possible, when the idea of travelling intensely attracts us. But it can also illustrate the progress made and to which we look back. Henceforth, I like to imagine that the landscapes encountered and the quest propelling us are intimately linked. The landscape, while imprinting its topography in us, eventually holds the mark of our own journey, thus embodying our quest. The strength with which it can, as far as I’m concerned, represent interior states, has influenced the point of view I chose to embrace with the current selection of films.

...transhumance inspires a process and delineates an itinerary, whether physical or intangible. It tells a story.

Indeed, the cinematic works I chose are no strangers to these ideas. They attest to the spirit of the youthful, hopeful impetus driving one to embrace the world; to the path that defines us and the satisfied, benevolent gaze backwards to the road behind us. My concerns as an “aspiring anthropologist” in addition to my interests in concepts such as cycles, transformations, and our ties to the territory, to the landscape and to nature, infuses the body of work with the wandering spirit of physical and imaginary vagrancy, and with a touch of melancholy. 

Via this selection of short films — in documentary, animation, essay, and experimental forms — Dreams and Quests celebrates aspirations and dreams; quests for meaning and identity; interior, individual and existential pursuits. These works depict fears, shortcomings, desires, affects, paths, transformations, transitions, and our own finitude, too. Finally, it offers a subjective look at something resembling life: a winding road, a long journey that leaves marks in and all around us.

The Dreamer 
Created by John Paizs in 1976, The Dreamer is an animated silent film scored with a song by British rock group Electric Light Orchestra. With drawings call to mind the aesthetics of old Disney movies, The Dreamer depicts the brief but frenetic cavalcade of a pink baby elephant with fairy wings. Entering a castle while dancing, it is immediately chased by a big bad wolf with bat wings. Looking to escape, the small elephant goes further into the royal residence, with the wolf on its heels. The omnipresent music accentuates the suspense. The elephant finds itself stuck in the highest tower and has no choice but to jump, falling down into the dark waters surrounding the castle. The last shot shows it waking up in the arms of one of its' parents, in the forest, during a storm. It was all a dream.

The animated film is both pleasing and dark, using the iconic codes and symbols of classic fairy tales — e.g., castle, winged creatures, good versus evil. Behind the simple plot and fast pace hides multiple potential interpretations. I see the story of a nightmare, sure, but also the sped-up evocation of a transition: from naive childhood to restless adulthood. In my view, the film is a dive into the depths of the unconscious, filled with fears, demons, and repressed desires, evoking that crucial moment when one must jump into the unknown, leaving the reassuring arms of the parents to go towards uncertainty, which seems ready to swallow us whole. 

The animated film is both pleasing and dark, using the iconic codes and symbols of classic fairy tales...

It is undoubtedly my love of dance and my admiration for the potential expressiveness of the body and movement that attracted me to this sensitive and unusual film. Feeling much like a dream, Territoire is a non-narrative cinematic essay full of mystery that is directed by dancer and choreographer Josiane Bernier in collaboration with her partner Ariane Voineau.

Beautiful long scenes shot inside a house alternate with others filmed in the landscape surrounding it, as the film interweaves indoors and outdoors to illustrate the start of a transformation. In a stark environment where the passage of time is enshrined in every element — the house in its creaking state, the objects and accessories chosen, and the landscape — the women make a series of repetitive gestures and movements, minimalist manoeuvers with hints of strangeness. Both alone and “together,” representing the “I” as well as the “we,” through their presence, their bodies and their interactions, they suggest a duality—between them, but also between what once was, what is, and what the future holds.

On the surface of an immutable rock, a metamorphosis is brewing. While it suggests a call to “elsewhere”, the film also suggests the premonition of a possible shipwreck. The fragile solidarity of the bodies and actions of these two women reveals a willingness to escape from a certain reality, to explore new territories, to overcome obstacles, to go beyond the limitations that others put on them, and that we put on ourselves. I see, in their ritualistic gestures, a burgeoning desire to go off track. The expectations of identity and perception — perhaps those culturally and historically linked to women’s roles  — but also to daily routines, with unchanging beats, which we often follow without realizing it.  

This essay film is, to me, an allegory of liberation, a visual poem about a quest for emancipation, a sublime invitation to break the chains locking us into the stiffening territories of time, and to escape overly restrictive lives. 

The fragile solidarity of the bodies and actions of these two women reveals a willingness to escape from a certain reality...

To create this animated fable without dialogue, filmmakers Amanda Strong and Hanuse Bracken Corlett used various techniques, materials and media — including puppets, computer animation, drawing, stop-motion animation, claymation, cutout animation, etc. The quest presented in this work takes the form of a waking dream. Wandering alone in the city, turning alleys into her secret sanctuaries, Mia’, a young Indigenous artist, draws scenes on the walls that are inspired by the supernatural and spiritual stories of her people and are guided by her intuition. Through her art, Mia’ dives into the depths of her conscience, her memory, and her culture. One night, the young woman is immersed in a vision in which she transforms into a salmon swimming beyond the mountains and the sea to return to its ancestral place.

With a touch of magical realism, this legend-like film uses many symbols and elements from indigenous cosmogony. By bringing to life the meaningful figures depicted in her art, they express the young woman’s quest who seeks to reconnect with her origins and with the stories of her people. This work is a quest for expression, via artistic gestures, while at the same time being a search for sacred meanings, for reparations and regeneration. Mia’s imaginary, fantastic universe evokes the revaluation and reappropriation by Indigenous peoples of their worlds and territories, in a geographic, spiritual and cultural sense. This quest seems to be about healing.

This work is a quest for expression, via artistic gestures, while at the same time being a search for sacred meanings, for reparations...

memento mori 
Dan Browne’s memento mori invites us to experience transhumance as the greatest journey…life. A formal, poetic exploration created out of all the photographs taken over a lifetime — a total of 100,000 images — the film superimposes the images while assembling them by subjects, objects, perceptions, dreams and experiences but with no apparent chronological foothold.

Through the accumulation, interweaving and perpetual permutations of life fragments listed and grouped, memento mori somehow conveys the way our memories superimpose over time, ending up blended and fused with each other, creating a indistinct mass of affects and impressions. As they appear on screen, the subject of each, sometimes recognizable, image is altered and becomes more abstract. The result is a concentration of colours, forms, textures, contrasts, lights and silhouettes, making up a vertiginous moving canvas. The delicate soundtrack uses looping motifs and fragments; off-screen voices, audio feedback, buzzing, along with the echoes of whales, bird songs, church bells, and slowed down musical notes, that are intertwined to envelop the frantic plethora of photographs.

As it depicts temporal transhumance, the film acts as an imprecise mnemonic litany, punctuated by fleeting reminiscences. The visual flow leads to a meditative state in which time slows down and becomes elastic, elusive. From start to finish, we lose track of the length of the work. The mass of images, like a mantra, drives us with various atmospheres and states of mind but with no way to grab on to anything. The impermanence of things is what finally comes out of this hypnotic cinematic landscape. And it’s superb!

..."memento mori" somehow conveys the way our memories superimpose over time, ending up blended and fused with each other...

Voies (Path)
The first time I watched this documentary was while I was on the selection committee for a film festival; it completely riveted and mesmerized me, unleashing powerful emotions. Created by Jérémy Comte during a long trip around the world after completing his studies, Path (Voies) offers a series of portraits of atypical characters that the director randomly met during his adventures. Comte crafts a melancholy film that simultaneously embraces our humanity and the entire world.

Alternating between carefully composed images and spontaneous framing, the film shows an amusing and touching cast of colourful characters in their surroundings and the spaces in which they exist. It celebrates diversity by depicting sensitive and unvarnished portraits of people following their dreams and ambitions, which are profound and beautiful. They discuss their paths, choices, passions, injuries, along with the obstacles they overcame, the philosophies that motivate them, and the beliefs they have. 

Path (Voies) gracefully synthesizes a major part of what I wanted to illustrate in the Transhumance - On the Other Side series. It is at once a journey, a collection of intertwined trajectories, a trip, and the evocation of existential, intimate, absolute and rallying quests! Through Comte’s voyage, his own transhumance, through his chance encounters, he shows us that humanity is, fragile yet strong, dark yet bright, strange yet fascinating. Beyond differences, languages, identities, borders, and cultures, he reaches for the universal search of uniting individuals to each other. It is a noble, salutary pursuit, more easily felt and evoked than delineated, giving us faith in humanity. To this day, this film still overwhelms me with dreams and emotions, bringing back the feeling I had when I was 20, as I was just learning about the notion of transhumance and all the inherent possibilities, as I aspired to go away to meet the world for myself.

...he reaches for the universal search of uniting individuals to each other. It is a noble, salutary pursuit, more easily felt and evoked than delineated, giving us faith in humanity.


Trained in Anthropology, Ariane Plante has worked as a freelancer in the cultural and artistic community for a dozen years, notably as curator, programmer, author, project manager, and artistic advisor. A self-taught artist, she has also developed a professional practice in media and visual arts. She has received grants as an artist and curator from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and from Première Ovation, as an artist, author (screenwriter) and curator. In 2012, Ariane Plante started Klondike – décor sonore pour patinoire, an independent curatorial project in audio art. She also created Occupation trouble, a program of video works from the La Bande Vidéo's media library. In 2015, she was named as  the main curator of the 2016, 2017 and 2018 editions of Mois Multi, an international multidisciplinary and electronic arts festival in Quebec. In 2017, she also programmed the Art and Exploration section at the Quebec City Film Festival. Her writing has notably been published during an exhibition at Oboro, and in the ETC media magazine. She lives in Montréal, and works in Quebec City and Montréal.

We also acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.