Eye to Eye

JOAN presents an exhibition of new and recent work by Berlin-based artist, Yalda Afsah in the artist’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles. The video installation will present two films from an ongoing series documenting different ritualized encounters between humans and animals.

Curro (2023), Afsah’s most recent film, documents a centuries-old Galician tradition known as Rapas das Bestas, in which wild horses are corralled into an arena to be tamed. Named after the Galician term for this arena, the film progresses from slow shots of people idling in a mountainous landscape to the adrenaline-fueled scene that takes place within it. In a performative display of masculinity, men are shown clipping horses’ manes and tails, and holding their heads tightly in a posture indistinguishable from an embrace.

The second film, SSRC (2022) focuses on the Los Angeles-based Secret Society Roller Club, a group of amateur roller pigeon enthusiasts, as they gather to watch the aerial choreography of the birds they have trained and cared for, sometimes for generations. Pointing to the intimacy of the relationship between pigeon and trainer, the film characterizes pigeon breeding as a process involving both affection and the imposition of human will. It also touches on the role this ritual plays within a particular community, and the way human-animal relations often intersect with the social axes of race, class, and gender.

The interactions depicted in these films oscillate between care and control, strength and will, instinct and manipulation, revealing an ambivalence central to human-animal relationships. Afsah’s films question and dissolve these dichotomies, carving out a space to reflect on the possibility of an overarching empathy between species.


When? Where?
9 September - 21 October 2023
1206 Maple Avenue, Suite 715
Los Angeles, CA 90015

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