Josefin Arnell (b. 1984, SE) has recently presented exhibitions, screenings, and performances at Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2019); Lily Robert, Paris (2019); Moscow International Biennale for Young Art (2018); Auto Italia, London (2018); Kunsthalle Münster (2017); and Beursschouwburg, Brussels (2017). Arnell lives and works in Amsterdam. She is a graduate from the Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam and an alumni of Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten.

Wild Filly story

Wild Filly Story is starring a pack of adolescent girls on a horse stable, playing out a fictional, yet custom-fit script that prompts questions of friendship, misfit, normativity, fetishization, and female empowerment. A young girl’s horse is taken away to be slaughtered that the horse community later feast on. A filly is a female horse that is too young to be called a mare.

Wild Filly Story takes place on Pony Ranch Floradorp, a therapy and recreation stable in the outskirts of Amsterdam Noord. The casts are regular visitors or workers at the stable. The young girls method-act through stages of agitation, thriving on the artist’s own rural childhood trauma in Sweden, a horsegirl´s obsessions, and her recent short-lived career as a porn film director: teens pulling hair, grand stallions being objectified, food fights, horse healing, and in the backyard of the barn a kissing scene is being made. A red thread through the film is a loose interpretation of a true story from the artist’s own adolescence: a lean, brace-carrying young girl’s horse is taken away to be slaughtered that the horse community later feast on. A ghost—an EMO teen, white-painted, unfitted, potentially dead—grimes her way through a hardcore “gabber” song from the London underground “Drop Dead” with the gang of horse girls as her backing choir. Meanwhile, scenes span from a couple engaged in cliched kissing in the hay (the male part mockingly says “your voice is a bird” borrowing his words from a series of so-called “poem jeans” by denim magnate Levi’s) to a cowgirl talking about a stallion having its balls cut off, giggling through her characterization of its masculine rage being tamed.

Text by Rhea Dal


A young woman talks through her emotions and the motions of caring for a previously mishandled horse