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Skin deep: surgical horror and the impossibility of becoming woman in Pedro Almodóvar's 'The Skin I Live In'

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2013
JournalBulletin of Hispanic Studies
Journal number7
Volume90
Number of pages16
Pages819-834
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Almodóvar's films have long been concerned with on-screen representations of masculine tyranny and the gender-blurring quality of the of the transgender body. The Skin I Live In (2011) analyses these tensions by exploring the possibilities of a complete alteration of the male body by means of transgenesis. Taking its cues from canonical surgical horror like Franju's Les yeux sans visage (1960), Almodóvar's film is both an indictment of the recent turn to clinical bodies in art and cinema, and a critique of what Susie Orbach has called ‘beauty terror’ (2009), or the horror inspired by the incapacity to have a perfect body. In this article I analyse these contextual coordinates through a productive dialogue with recent developments in Gender Studies, particularly transgender identities (Butler, Deleuze and Guattari, Salamon) and body modification (Orlan) and argue for the potential liberation of the sentient subject through dermography.