Janis Rafa creates disquieting, fable-like films, videos, installations, and cinematic narratives that place people in relation to non-human beings – animals, plant life, both alive and dead. Common to her narratives are ritual forms of parting with or coming into proximity with dead beings, including burial, cremation, digging, and archaeology. Her films may be fantastical, but they fall far from an escapist fantasy. Rafa’s 2020 short film Lacerate was originally commissioned by Fondazione In Between Art Film as part of an initiative devoted to the subject of domestic and gender-based violence towards women. Appearing like a scene from a memento mori painting come to life, the work is carefully staged in the decaying remains of an opulent home, which viewers find swarming with restless dogs, who noisily pant and gnaw at strewn hunks of meat, household objects, and furniture. Piles of strikingly feathered dead fowl are arranged with potatoes and onions in a sink beneath a running tap. Luxurious trays of fruit and cups of milk rot on a dining table. On the floor lies a bearded man, bleeding from his neck; dogs sniff and prod him, like they do with any other remnant of meat. Inspired by the iconography of biblical paintings like the 17th-century Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi’s famous proto-feminist work Judith Beheading Holofernes, Lacerate creates an allegory of self-defense against gendered violence, combining art historical symbolism with distressing, nightmarish imagery.