While swirling colors are dancing across the screen together with flowers, mosses, branches, and rocks, Qirima Telengut, grandmother of artist Alisi Telengut, describes how an ovoo, a shamanic stone altar decorated with silk scarfs (khatas) is built. These altars are important places for indigenous peoples of Mongolia and Siberia: It is where they come to worship mother earth, the rivers, their ancestors, the earth’s spirits, and the God of Heaven, Tengri. During milk libation ceremonies, milk is given to the forest and to heaven — with its foaming white clouds — as a sacrifice with which to feed gods and spirits. This illustrates the relationship between humans and nature, as well as how important it is to respect the latter. The rhythmic singing of the Tuvan band Huun-Huur-Tu, coupled with blowing winds, crackling fires, and whooshing water, creates an ethereal soundscape. The film ends with the perpetual song and dance of plants in steady unison with nature’s spirits.
With an animation made from oil pastel chalk and different natural mate- rials, the Canadian artist of Mongolian heritage spirits us away to evolving worlds that change with every passing image. The impression of movement and aliveness is due to the continuous transformation of each individual image, which is ›erased‹ and drawn anew for the next one. Even though the images only exist for a brief moment, the organic animation invites us to linger and recon- sider our relationship to the environment.
THE FOURFOLD is an impressive immersion in the artist’s engagement with her cultural heritage — a multi- sensory experience, based on mystical rites and practices of her ancestors. The film is a cinematic trip that reveals the worldview and wisdom of the indigenous people and discloses an ancient animist idea: That life is always lived in relation- ship to others. Nature is recognized as
a living and animated community that is to be met with attention and respect. This also means that social conscience is not limited to humanity, but includes the environment as well.
In the context of current crises, THE FOURFOLD softly but firmly suggests that the archaic idea of a holistic spirit at the heart of all things is essential for the planet and for humanity, should it want to live on it in a sustainable fashion. (Miriam Hausner)
Supported by Main Film (Montréal), Cinémathèque québécoise, Canada Council for the Arts, Toronto Animated Image Society - TAIS and National Film Board of Canada - Filmmaker Assistance Program (NFB - FAP)
Images: Alisi Telengut, The Fourfold, 2020 © Alisi Telengut