“I never dream”. How many times have we heard this sentence from friends, relatives or people we barely know? Truth is that everybody dreams. This doesn’t mean that everybody are always able to remember what they dreamt about. Personally, it doesn’t happen very often and when I do remember I cannot quite put into words what I’ve experienced.
On the other hand, dreams are not always “real” dreams (excuse the pun). We can also refer to dreams as our future projections like what we want to become when we grow up or what we want to achieve in life. This kind of dreams can also be very trifle or refer to simple things. For example, one of my dreams could be to visit a city or to cook something very difficult without burning anything.
Playing on this double meaning of dreams “Dreams on Sale” by Vlad Buzaianu, a short movie presented at BBB Festival in 2016, portrays a dystopian future where people have literally stopped dreaming. The reason behind this strange behavior might be the appearance on the market of a machine able to record our dreams. An artist obsessed by the disappearance of his dreams decides to exhibit and consequently sell all of his recorded dreams, reaming unable of both dreaming and producing any new work of art.
This 10-minute documentary succeeds in interlacing three themes:
- the human need of dreaming as a relief from reality
- the commodification of the private sphere
- the relationship between dreams and art
Human beings are in extreme need of dreaming as an unconscious ritual that purifies and filters our everyday life. Dreams are very potent source of relief for our deepest and sometimes basest or unexpected desires. They cleanse our mind so that we can live in our civilized world. However, what if we become able to watch our dreams? We would be exposed to what we are deep down, to a person that is buried beneath and that we don’t know anything of. In “Dreams of Sale” the artist discovers that his most recurrent dream is committing suicide. How can one keep on living normally after discovering his or her most intimate desire? This question opens up to new ones: do we really want to go over the pillars of Hercules? Must knowledge be our ultimate goal or should we stop and accept the unknown and mysterious as vital parts of our existence?
These questions lead to the next theme: the commodification and consumption of our private sphere. In a world where personal data are more valuable than money and that privacy is becoming a luxury for the rich, what does “sharing” really mean? More than the nice meaning we fancy to attach to it, today sharing has come to signify the trade of our personal life to third parties in order to appear and be liked. We don’t own ourselves anymore. Furthermore, who gets to dream? Obviously, only well-off people can afford going to the artist’s exhibition and consume his art. These are the people who are actually entitled to dream. It becomes clear that dreaming, in the second sense of the term, is a privilege for the few made possible by sacrificing the majority of the world population.
Lastly, the relationship between dreams and art is also explored in this short film. When his dreams are sold out, the artist, barren of his past dreams and unable to dream anymore, approaches the window and looks out. A song starts playing and its first lyrics are “Oh you’re gonna lose your soul tonight”. Has the artist sold out his soul as well? Is his exhibition really about art? Contemporary art has been criticized for being extremely linked and complicit in the commodification process we are experiencing today. After all, what has the artist done? He has just sold his dreams, he hasn’t created anything that anybody else couldn’t actually produce. More than the artifact and its execution, it’s the artist’s name that counts. Finally, once the artist has decided to commit artistic suicide and ultimately sold himself and his deepest desires, can he produce art again? Or has he really lost his soul?
“Dreams on Sale” is a clever and well thought-of short movie with a precise and elegant photography. The decision to give to this futuristic world a vintage look (dreams are recorded through tapes, old-fashioned newspapers are shown announcing the approaching end of human dreaming etc..) makes the criticism of contemporary societies even sharper. “Dreams on Sale” definitely raises many questions but also gives a few answers: don’t you ever stop dreaming!
By Sara Anna Iannone
Sara Anna Iannone is a MA student of Comparative Literature at the Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”. Born and raised in Salerno, Italy, she has lived and studied in Naples. From here she moved to London for a year as an Erasmus student at the School of Oriental and African Studies. After completing her bachelor degree, she spent one year in Tokyo thanks to a double scholarship granted by the Università degli Studi di Napoli ‘L’Orientale’ and the Japanese Government. She is currently living in Athens completing her Erasmus Traineeship period at the not-for-profit organization Inter Alia.