#15 Yalda Afsah 
Film screening and conversation 
Friday, 2 February, 7pm 

Yalda Afsah, CURRO, 2023

Friday, 2 February, we warmly invite you to an evening of film screenings by artist and filmmaker Yalda Afsah, the first recipient of the Between Bridges residency, including the Berlin premiere of the single-channel version of her latest film CURRO. The screening will be followed by a conversation between Afsah and Viktor Neumann.

Yalda Afsah investigates how space can be cinematically constructed as her films explore the interface between reality and staging. This formal characteristic of Afsah’s work is conceptually mirrored in her recent portraits of human-animal relationships that reveal an ambivalence between care and control, physical strength and broken will, instinct and manipulation. Despite their documentary focus, her films and video installations seem to capture symbiotic choreographies on-screen – equally portraying and fictionalising their human and non-human protagonists. 

The short movie Tourneur (2018) documents a bull fight in Southern France and subtly comments on the disparity between the young, adrenaline rushed participants and the physically superior animal, cornered by the adolescent men. The unpredictability of the situation is increased by foam flooding into the makeshift arena, which equally affects the participants’ and the audience’s view. In the opaque foam mass, the encounter between human and animal turns into a surreal and archaic performative act – as if it has slipped away from reality, it becomes its own abstraction.

Named after its setting, a French river, Yalda Afsah’s film Vidourle (2019) documents a strange and subtly unnerving choreography, capturing a group of young men performing what could be a ritual, a spectacle, a game, or a fight. In their collective movements as well as individual moments of concentration, anticipation and occasional forlornness, the adrenalin-fuelled adolescent protagonists seem to embody the frailty of the human condition awaiting an environmental change, much like an unexpectedly forceful current in a river.

A group of men is fixing their eyes onto the sky. High above, a swarm of pigeons is moving in an unrecognizable formation, when suddenly individual birds drop in mid-air, spinning backwards with their wings extended and tumbling down in a circular motion before resuming their ordinary flight path. Yalda Afsah’s short film SSRC (2022)  slowly dissects this aerial choreography, revealing its nature as a form of animal training and gradually zooming into the at times almost intimate details of this interspecies relationship. Focusing on the specific social context of the Los Angeles-based „Secret Society Roller Club“ and its members’ identification with and through the animals, Afsah’s film negotiates positions of co-dependency and care, domestication and dominance – calling into question the ambivalence reflected in the symbol of the soaring bird free in its flight, yet simultaneously bound to human will.

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, or feel, out of place, 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.