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Yalda Afsah

Curro, 2023

Video installation. Yalda Afsah’s CURRO (2023) explores the ritualized taming of wild horses according to the Galician custom Rapas das Bestas, raising questions about the social construction of masculinity, dependence and alienation from nature through the act of “taming” in interspecies relationships. In the context of this form of domestication, in which the wild horses are herded out of the mountains into the valley to be sheared and marked by the “aloitadores” (gal. for fighters), the supposed assumption of responsibility for the animal contrasts with the forlornness and disorientation of the human protagonists as they wait in the wilderness; they seem to be alienated from the natural landscape that surrounds them. The reciprocal dynamic of this sometimes violent encounter between human and animal in the arena (the so-called “curro”) is brought to a halt in unexpected positions of intimacy in the eponymous film.
About Yalda Afsah
German-Iranian artist and filmmaker Yalda Afsah explores in her work the extent to which filmed space becomes a construction through cinematic means. This formal characteristic is conceptually mirrored in her recent works on various cross-species relationships, which reveal the inherent ambivalences within these reciprocal dynamics. Using the examples of traditional forms of bullfighting, classical dressage, pigeon breeding, and most recently, the ritualistic taming of feral horses, Afsah’s films both reveal and complicate the demarcations between care and dependence, ‘nature’ and its cultivation. Departing from a documentary focus, her films and video installations portray and fictionalize the human and animal protagonists alike, capturing their symbiotic choreographies on screen. Afsah has presented her work at international exhibitions and festivals, including Manifesta 13, Locarno Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Institute of Contemporary Arts London and Neuer Berliner Kunstverein. Recent solo exhibitions include Curro (Between Bridges, Berlin, DE, 2023) and Every word was once an animal (Halle für Kunst, Graz, AT and Kunstverein Munich, DE, both 2022). An upcoming solo presentation at JOAN in Los Angeles is scheduled for September 2023. Since 2019, Afsah has been a mentor at the Berlin program for artists (BPA). In the fall of 2023, she will take up a professorship in the department of time-based media at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts.