Artist: Josefin Arnell
Exhibition title: Wild Filly Story
Curated by: Christina Gigliotti
Venue: Editorial, Vilnius, Lithuania
Date: July 9 – 31, 2021
Photography: Ugnius Gelguda / all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Editorial, Vilnius
Josefin Arnell’s solo show “Wild Filly Story” marks five year anniversary of Editorial space. The show is curated by Christina Gigliotti.
Nobody talks about my story. I don’t even know it myself.
RIP to the girl I used to be. Whoever she was, she loved to ride horses. I can remember only back to moments before my death. It was an unexceptionally damp, paper-thin, cloud covered day, the kind where nothing makes a shadow and you can never tell what time it really is. Sweat made my white polyester dress and fingerless skeleton gloves stick to my skin. All the other girls wore tight jeans and bejeweled t-shirts with phrases like “C’est la Vie” on them. In the ring, I held the leather reins tight, guiding my tawny horse around the fence, rounding the corners elegantly. First a walk, then trot, then a canter. Slow down, walk, trot, canter. In class we were learning how to control ourselves so we could better control the horses. Squeeze your thighs, release. Dig your ankles into her belly, kick. Shadow was walking slow, and a stupid song was stuck in my head. In the moment that he took off in such a jolt, the song stopped. I bounced off the saddle like a trampoline and slid down his left side, skidding into the dirt. My long dress, all tangled up in the stirrups, towed me along under the body of the galloping animal. I was rolling and dragging and fully embalmed in the thudding vibrations of hooves hitting the ground. Finally, one hoof met my face, and crushed my skull.
What’s it like to die? I still don’t know. I tried, but Shadow wouldn’t let me. After the pressure on my head subsided, waves of burgundy flooded into my sight. It wasn’t so bad, bobbing around in this tepid, viscous goop. Like floating in a lazy river, it pushed me forward slowly.
You’re not going anywhere you little bitch! This is for eating my father!
Out of the bubbly goop came Shadow’s head lurching towards me. He crunched down on my foot with his shiny chrome teeth, and swirled his tongue around my toes, pulling me further and further until my skin felt air. I landed belly up in the soggy gravel, seeing the clouds again. None of the trainers or girls were running to me. They weren’t crying or shrieking, filled with unbearable grief.
What’s it like to be dead? No one knows my story. Being undead is being bored at a ranch for eternity. I can’t speak or ride, or even taste the grilled horse burgers anymore. I wander around waiting for another horse to take revenge. At least then I might have someone to play with.
– Christina Gigliotti
Josefin Arnell (b. 1984, Sweden) lives and works in Amsterdam. Her body of work includes video, drawing, performance, and sculpture. Through these mediums, Arnell tells stories of how to try and navigate contemporary infrastructures with impossible demands, desires, dominations, and control. The teenage girl, the horse, and the mother are recurring characters alongside clumsy allegories in conflicts of human conditions or environmental catastrophes.
In 2018, Arnell was awarded the Theodora Niemeijer Prijs – for emerging women artists based in the Netherlands. Arnell’s work has been internationally shown at Van Abbe Museum (NL); International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (NL); Kunsthalle Münster (DE); Auto Italia (UK); Center for Contemporary Art FUTURA (CZ); Moscow International Biennale for Young Art 2018 (RU); Sorbus Gallery (FI); Palais de Tokyo (FR); UKS – Young artists association Oslo (NO); and WIELS (BE). In 2015/2016, Arnell participated in the two year residency program Rijksakademie van Beeldende kunsten (Amsterdam). She holds an MA from Sandberg Instituut (Amsterdam) and a BA from Beckmans College of design, (Stockholm). In addition to her solo work, she is involved in multiple collaborations and self initiatives, most noticeably the artist duo: HellFun aka Josefin Arnell & Max Göran. HellFun prefers to be brave and pathetic rather than drowning in shame. HellFun is presenting a new extensive video installation for the Athens Biennale 7 in September 2021.