Manifesta purposely strives to keep its distance from what are often seen as the dominant centres of artistic production, instead seeking fresh and fertile terrain for the mapping of a new cultural topography.

Manifesta 13 Marseille was one of the only international biennials to take place during the global pandemic COVID-19, the biennial ended earlier than planned due to the second national lockdown

Yalda Afsah, DE

Focusing on different encounters between human and animal, Yalda Afsah’s practice continuously explores the possibilities for cinematically constructing filmic space. At the same time, the documentary character of her films fluidly transitions into forms of theatricality. Tourneur (2018) and Vidourle (2019) both document a kind of bullfight practiced in the South of France; meanwhile, Centaur (2020) portrays the classical dressage of horses. Each of these films capture a strange choreography on screen, which could respectively be described as a ritual, a spectacle, a game or a fight – performative acts translated into filmic abstractions.

While the bullfight is a meeting marked by unpredictability, the animals’ movements in dressage are controlled down to the finest detail and seem far removed from the categories of nature, drive or instinct. The insight into how these animals are handled reveals an ambivalence between care and control, physical strength and broken will, instinct and artifice. Afsah allows her protagonists to dissolve these dichotomies – a symbiosis that leaves space for the audience to evaluate the possibility of an overarching empathy between the species, which seems rooted in mutual vulnerability.