Programmed by Naomie Décarie-Daigneault
A Short History Of Madness is a contemporary dance film. Traveling through time in six architectural scenes, it touches on key moments in the treatment of mental illness in Quebec, from the end of the 19th century to today. The film introduces us to six mentally ill characters who are interpreted by dancers. It then goes on to follow a woman, Jacqueline, who ends up on the street after losing access to psychiatric care as part of the de-institutionalization process in the eighties.
A word from Tënk
The history of madness is a social history. The canonic madman plays many different roles in society, perhaps most importantly as a representation of everything we collectively repress. Both a subject of fascination and repulsion, madness is alarming to us because it’s a switch that can be flipped at any time. What safeguards could we possibly build for this sudden slip into another world, one where language can no longer be relied upon to hold up structures both within us and without? How can you keep from careening off the edge?
By illustrating the history of psychiatric treatments in Quebec through dance, Isabelle Hayeur reveals its different mechanisms for normalization and exclusion―an eminently symbolic account of each era and the taboos it chose to conceal. Hayeur undertook extensive research and drew inspiration from films on psychiatry and documentaries to construct a choreography that uses body language to show the struggles that operate between internal breakdowns and external structures. A Short History of Madness illustrates the inability of our productivity-obsessed societies to integrate deviants, a collective failure that reveals an underlying cruelty of our social systems. In a world that only values labour, the only path left for the slow, the off-track, the sidelined, the losers, and the magnificent ones is and will always be exclusion.
Tënk’s Artistic Director