Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Skin Deep? Surgical Horror and the Impossibility of Becoming Woman in Almodóvar's The Skin I Live In

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2013), 90, (7), 819–834.

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.

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Author details

Reyes, Xavier