Encountering the Other in Dans ma peau
My paper explores the corporeal intimacy created between spectators and film via affectively wounding and tactile aesthetics in Dans ma peau (Marina de Van, 2002) from an ethico-philosophical perspective.
Phenomenological film scholars such as Laura U. Marks and Tarja Laine describe the cinematic screen as a “skin” through which spectators experience intimate and tactile encounters with filmic images. I draw on these ideas to explore how we as spectators form physically troubling, yet intimate bonds with films in which violence is done to the skin. I argue that the disturbingly tactile style in which Dans ma peau presents scenes of skin mutilation allows the physical pain of these mutilations to touch the bodies of spectators. The skins of spectators mingle with those of the films as the affective force of violent images creates an unsettlingly close bond between the two.
In addition to discussing how the stylistic conventions of this film create intimacies between spectators and images, I also attend to the ways in which intimacies with the self are explored in the diegesis. I draw on the intersubjective ethos of philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy to argue that the protagonist of Dan ma peau mutilates herself in order to facilitate a co-existence with the body-as-other, and that this co-existence arises out of the socio-political and economic environment in which she lives. I then use this framework of co-existence with the other to describe spectatorship as a physically and emotionally intimate co-existence with the “other” of film in which we as spectators are embodied, wounded and ethically transformed by our proximity to images of pain and violence.