Elena López Riera, Los que desean (Those Who Desire), 2018 (still). Digital video. 24 minutes.
The films of Elena López Riera (b. 1982, Orihuela, Spain) intermingle observational documentary, essayistic work, and filmic portraiture to form poetic representations of individuals and settings that are specific to the artist’s native coastal Southern Spain, but serve as microcosms of social and cultural phenomena resonating the world over.
Los que desean (Those who desire) (2018) chronicles Valencia’scolombicultura, an exclusively male subculture devoted to raising and training homing pigeons, or palomas, for competition. The film follows one of the most central paloma races from the artist’s hometown, where trainers brightly paint and elaborately decorate their birds to prepare them for a special race won not by the fastest bird, but by the male pigeon who is able to chase and “conquer” a single female one. The race begins with the flight of this female bird, followed by the release of a multicolored, swarming flock of male pigeons in hot pursuit. The artist’s film is a portrait not just of the animal world, but also the the men who train these birds, and the cultural mores and codes that structure the colombicultura and the community at large. A film that is as much about masculinity as it is about birds, Los que desean dissects notions of identity, sexuality, and the collective construction of contemporary gender identities.
(Image courtesy of Elena Lopez Riera.)