Queer in the Abyss: The uses of mis-en-abyme from Wavelength to Under the Skin

By JN Hoad|

The term ‘mis-en-abyme’ translates from French as ‘placed into abyss’; the concept is used in art and film criticism to describe a visual situation where one image is placed within another. A clear and famous example is Jan van Eyck’s 1434 ‘Arnolfini Portrait’, in which the mirror against the far wall of a room reflects the backs of a posing couple, as well as two other figures not present in the scene proper. To place a scene within a scene, and a scene within an abyss, at once extends, opens and disturbs the landscape of an image. It implies a space beyond what is properly seen, not simply a realist presence over the horizon, but a pocket within (yet secluded from) the immediately visible, cohesive space of the portrait.

Here, I will outline how the appearance of the mis-en-abyme as a visual motif in contemporary cinema has produced particular anxious and queer effects. Like Eve Sedgwick in Epistemology of the Closet, I am concerned with how queer, homo- and bi- sexual desires, as well as trans identities, are tied up with the keeping of secrets – and vice versa. [1]

Not only are gay experiences necessarily secluded in a homophobic repressive and oppressive culture, according to Sedgwick, but paranoid concern with hidden truths itself implies a kind of sexual anxiety, a latent panic regarding the truth and reliability of our desires. Sedgwick is primarily concerned with secret desires between men, but here I will consider secrets of a wider scope. So, in Mulholland Drive, we will see how desires between women are repressed, confused and frustrated, and through Leilo and Glazer’s work, we will see how trans women are figured in terms of secrets, with very different resolutions. Over the course of various films, tacitly or explicitly queer, from The Shining to A Fantastic Woman, libidinal secrets and anxieties have been placed not only in the closet, but into abyss; not only are sexual anxieties hidden, but they create an enfolding and deepening negative space that, like a black hole, begins to entomb the whole surrounding filmscape.

Into the void:

The experimental prototype for this imagery in recent cinema is Michael Snow’s Wavelength. Snow was influential in the Canadian and New York avant garde art and film scenes in the 1960s, in which artists, directors, critics and theorists were increasingly taking an interest in the purely formal effects and capacities of visual art. [2] Snow’s Wavelength, produced in 1966 and first screened in 1967, quickly became a touchstone for various discussions in this field for its intensive focus on the technicalities of camerawork, soundtrack, lighting and color effects. For our purposes it can demonstrate the form of scrutiny which a camera can exercise towards the mis-en-abyme.

There might not be another film which is so centrally fascinated with, or anxious about, a single object, a single image. The camera is initially placed in a well-composed but rather empty mid-shot in an unused first floor office space, with four windows, a street outside, and scant furniture. Over the course of nearly forty-five minutes, the lens slowly zooms into a space on the far wall between two windows. Most of the variation in mood and aesthetics is created through dramatic color filters placed on the scene, gradually rising sine waves in the soundtrack, and jarring cuts which juxtapose day and night lighting in the room, or translucently overlay previous footage. Through intense concentration, gradual re-framing, changes in film stock and dramatic doctoring, the space is continuously made strange and re-assessed. The whole exercise draws attention to how variations in light and sound – in wavelengths – in fact alter, and indeed create, the space and time in which the camera is placed.

All of this happens while the camera itself remains fascinated with a small and initially distant photograph of water, at the back of the room, which is only clearly visible in the last few minutes of the film. (The visual pun on ‘wavelength’ seems to metaphorically compliment the film’s experiments in synaesthesia). A flat and fairly abstract, yet elegant greyscale picture of waves gradually replaces the more concrete office space. A fragmented narrative, almost a mystery story, in fact plays out during the long zoom. A man stumbles into the space from off-screen and dies on the floor, at the bottom of the frame; much later, a woman comes in, finds the body and (without much visible panic) phones the police. But the camera maintains its slow progress towards the waves without interest in the violence playing out in its peripheral vision. Somehow the mis-en-abyme is more fascinating. Whatever its specific fascination, the scene within the scene clearly exercises an enigmatic temptation, even as it is surrounded by unexplained violence.

This anxious fascination with the image of the void has been re-appropriated in various pieces, often loaded with specific social and sexual significances. Stanley Kubrick drew direct inspiration from Michael Snow in a few of his own most famous shots. Towards the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey (released the year after Wavelength) the camera travels into the abyss in a moment of cosmic transcendence. [3] An aged astronaut, Dave, is lying in an ornate neoclassical bed; before him at the foot of the bed, the massive, looming black monolith from earlier in the film appears. The figure, possibly a communication device, seems to herald extraterrestrial interventions in human progress. A cut back to the bed finds Dave transformed into a glowing embryo; the camera then faces the monolith, and pans into its darkness. Here, the monolith is also a wormhole, an abyss through which Dave is transported to transcend human limitations, a status seemingly indicated as the glowing Star Child floats above the Earth in the following, final shots. As we will see, David Lynch later re-employed this journey through the monolith’s shadow to a more unsettling, deflationary effect.

monolith 2001 2'19'16

Kubrick also saw the possibility of the mis-en-abyme to indicate a latent but repressed violence in his 1977 horror picture, The Shining. [4] The final shot of film employs the same visual effect as Wavelength to add a final twist to its ghost story. The camera starts out in the foyer of the Overlook Hotel, looking from some distance at a collection of twenty-one pictures hung on a far wall through a door; gradually, it pans towards these photos, focusing on a single photo in the middle. Distant, echoing ballroom music plays, already indicating a haunting presence. As the camera makes out the detail of the picture, we see it is a party, dated 1921; at the bottom of the frame is Jack Torrance, directly facing outwards with a naïve but uncanny smile on his face. Jack arrives at the Overlook Hotel fifty years later, in the film’s present, and becomes a conduit for the demonic, maddening, repressed violence which seems to invisibly saturate its halls.

Critic and theorist Frederic Jameson offers a Marxist account of this haunting, arguing that Jack is “possessed neither by evil as such nor by the ‘devil’ or some analogous occult force, but rather simply by History” [5]; the upper class, early twentieth century costume and décor of the ghosts and scattered artistic references to Native American cultures both point to inequalities and violences of a distant American history, which becomes the scene of Jack’s turning on his family. Critic Geoffery Cocks, who notes that Kubrick read Freud whilst working the screenplay, describes how the film is filled with incidental but suggestive details which indicate (but do not disclose) various repressed historical anxieties[vi]. Specifically, it was developed during a time when the horrors of the Holocaust were being increasingly discussed in mainstream American society, and Kubrick himself seemed concerned with his place as a Jewish film-maker. Throughout the film, visual details and brief lines of dialogue subtly reference Nazi aesthetics, American nationalism, and the massacre of Native Americans. More obviously, the film plays out as a hyperbolically violent narrative of domestic abuse and patriarchal violence. [6]

The Shining 2'20'33

At the 1921 party, the ‘swinging’, affluent white party guests seem to be condoned for being oblivious to the evil lurking amongst them. In the final visual flourish, Jack Torrance gazes out from the abyss where this violence abides, becoming the very face of entrenched, oppressive evil. Here he impossibly appears back in the Hotel’s past, embodying a violence that is present even prior to its arrival, and also endlessly recalled.

In the 1960s and 70s Kubrick’s camera travelled into the abyss to explore various social and historical concerns of the time. In 1968, the promise of a life beyond the limitations of current, mundane human existence appeared there, just as various worldwide radical social movements were struggling for their own version of human progress. The filmic abyss also becomes a way of reflecting on the never properly disclosed violences American and European modernity. Following this, various other directors such as Jonathan Glazer and David Lynch would employ this visual mode in gloomier, weirder and queerer ways.

Lynch’s 2001 Mulholland Drive is an oblique dreamwork about Hollywood hypocrisy, sexual jealousy and mistaken identity[vii]. The film presents a series of loosely connected, surreal vignettes, that mainly focus on two queer women investigating a case of lost memory. There is a hint of a bisexual love triangle involving Betty, who might be dreaming the whole film, and her brunette companion who takes the name Rita from a move star; it is suggested that they competed over a leading role, and this led to an assignation, and a suicide. There are various ways of piecing together the film’s cryptic episodes into a narrative, but it clearly concerns sexual jealousy, various deaths, and quasi-conspiratorial Hollywood dealings (all of which seems to culminate in the opening car crash at Mulholland Drive). I am not going to offer a cohesive interpretation of film’s narrative or each of its weird symbols here, but instead will focus on how those secrets are structured by a void.[7]

The camera travels into the void in a scene that (initially) promises to open up the secret pervading this cinematic web. Rita and Betty return to Betty’s apartment after a late night visit to Club Silencio, where the artifice of film for is revealed to them on stage. (As in Wavelength, viewers are exposed to and estranged from the craft which creates a seemingly cohesive film space.) There, a blue box appears in Rita’s handbag, seeming to fit an odd blue key from Rita’s purse. Arriving in the (now shared) bedroom, the key is retrieved from a hat box, and Rita places the cube on the bed to open it, as Betty walks off camera. Rita calls to Betty to see what she is going to find in the box, but she does not respond; she seems to have disappeared upon walking out of view. The camera takes on Rita’s point of view as she carefully turns the lock and lifts the lid, and the camera quickly pans inwards, falling into the dark interior. Then, the box falls away from the camera, which swings up to see an older woman enter the bedroom – are we looking here from the view of a collapsed Rita? We look through this new woman’s eyes as she scans the room to see what the noise was – but there is no woman, and no box any more.

MH 1'53'31

What is the secret within the abyss of Betty’s blue box? The desire between Becky and Rita has already been made explicit, in a rather tender love making scene just before. In fact, it is Rita who in her post-coital slumber is inspired to visit Club Silencio in a dream (within a dream); there is some link between their love making, the later appearance of the box, and the decomposing of the dream. The secret pertains to their queer desire, but is embedded also in something else, a more acute violence or a wider social context that is hinted at throughout the film. It is not so much that a sexual secret emerges from the abyss here, but rather that the film space is dissolved in an attempt to traverse this void or absence. The camera loses Becky and the Rita as the pivotal box opened, in a confusion of visual perspective. Going through the emptiness of the film’s central mystery both opens up and rends apart the dream world of the film. In the following scene, a cowboy tells a corpse, ‘Hey pretty girl, time to wake up’, before everything descends into a feverish nightmare.

MH 1'53'01

Mulholland Drive clearly identifies its central mystery with frustrated and violent desires, but does not readily locate or describe those desires. It gestures at a wider criticism of Hollywood, corporate interference in creative projects, and the violent sexual politics of the American film industry, but at the same time focuses on the formal, filmic elements of these scenes, more than social critique. Somewhat like in The Shining, then, these concerns are repressed but overbearingly present. The initially discrete puncture through which we glimpse something enigmatic can offer a surprising breadth and depth, channelling much wider historical anxieties (as in Kubrick) or an uncanniness that does not dissolve even as the secrets domain is opened (as in Lynch). (That this uncanniness might itself be a queer social and political concern might be the a basis of a more expressively political interpretation of Lynch’s later work.) In the next section, we will see how two narratives of trans women negotiate this relation between idiosyncratic and alienating secrets and their social context.

Under the skin:

On viewing Chilean director Sebastián Leilo’s recent film A Fantastic Woman, I was struck by how one particular moment echoes the visual motif of the box from Lynch. [8] The film is about a transgender woman, Marina, a singer and waitress, whose beloved partner, Orlando, dies at the beginning of the film. Distraught, Marina tries to reckon with the death of her partner in the face of widespread transphobic exclusion and hostility. Before his death, Orlando had planned a trip with Marina to Iguaza Falls, whose beautiful water-scape fills the opening shots of the film; this promise of luxury and escape comes to overhang her mournful longing for him.

The film evokes Lynch when Marina, like Betty and Rita, realises where a key she found earlier fits, and ventures to the spa frequented by her former lover to search his locker (and perhaps retrieve the tickets to Iguaza). In an arguably cliché scene of transgender passing, Marina must navigate various burly men in the steamy and, in melding purples and blues, strangely lit sauna. Upon reaching the locker and trying the key, the camera initially watches her in close-up, facing her as she faces the space within. She blankly turns her head away and walk off; already we know, then, that she was disappointed. The camera takes the reverse angle to confirm this and, in an eerie drift, enters the darkness of the empty locker.

AFW 1'25'12

Here the mis-en-abyme is used to evoke the frustration of a trans woman left out of heterosexual belonging and social affluence. In searching for a token of Orlando’s lost companionship, Marina wants to re-affirm his acceptance of her gender and sexual life, which is otherwise scorned throughout the film, indeed virulently by Orlando’s own family. The tickets to Iguaza Falls specifically promise an escape from tedium as a waitress, gifted by her relatively wealthy partner.

In its final scenes, the film attempts to address and perhaps fulfill these promises. Finally attending Orlando’s funeral, at which she angrily confronts the his bigoted family, Marina encounters his ghost, who leads her to say goodbye to his body before he is cremated. Following this, we see Marina performing joyously at an opera concert, fulfilling another longing of hers to sing which has been present throughout the film. Yet alongside these, the dark void within the locker remains a striking image of the disappointment faced by trans women who attempt to improve their lives. This motif draws on the camera’s capacity to enlarge the space before it; indeed transitions in both gender and class are experiences in which small objects – make-up, jewelry, cash, credit cards, plane tickets – can take on a greatly enlarged presence, their absence perhaps even more so.

These punctures in the visual and narrative continuity of film seem often to form around experiences of sexual and gender marginalization. Marina is scrutinized by both the police, who assume she is a sex worker and tacitly suspect she is implicated in her partner’s death, and Orlando’s family, who deny the authenticity of her relationship. Both these parties in state and social enforcement of gender norms scrutinize her as a trans woman, as the police insist on taking naked photos of her at one point, and Orlando’s son Bruno violently harasses her. Marina is coded as always hiding something — criminal guilt, her physical body, or gendered truth — which in turn marks her for exclusion from social belonging. This anxiety around deviance relates to sex, gender and death (to expand Sedgwick’s concerns) and can be seen also, for instance, in the mysterious aura projected by queerly regarded celebrities.

Consider, in this light, the aesthetics of David Bowie’s last album Blackstar, released in 2016, the same year he died of liver cancer. The song ‘Lazarus’ lyricises flight as at once freedom, evasion, death and resurrection: “Look up here, I’m in heaven/I’ve got scars that can’t be seen.” [9] In the video, a blindfolded Bowie languishes twitching on a sick bed, before finally stepping backwards into a closet which both enshrouds his sexual identity and entombs his body. In the gothic-sci-fi short film accompanying the space-jazz track ‘Blackstar’, we also see the skeleton of Major Tom, Bowie’s first and most famous space-faring musical persona, drifting towards a black hole. [10] These caverns in domestic and interstellar space become at once graves for masquerade characters, allegories for Bowie’s actual (publicly undisclosed) illness and mortality, and a final veil against various speculations about his sexual identity.

Blackstar 3'26

The mis-en-abyme is morbid, and erodes alike the secret and its mask; this is an epistemology of the psychic, cosmic and sepulchral closet. We can explore this concept more thoroughly by turning to another recent work of speculative fiction, Jonathan Glazer’s 2013 Under the Skin. [11] In that film, towards the beginning, a woman (unnamed, played by Scarlett Johannson) drives around Glasgow, picking up men; soon, it becomes apparent that the men are disappearing after getting in her car. It slowly becomes clear that the woman, who early on we see stealing a dead woman’s clothes, is a monster, an alien in disguise seducing these men to horrific ends. The film owes much to Kubrick, in its lingering, austere and tightly composed camerawork, and dialogue-sparse narrative. In the opening scene, a woman reads random words and syllables over images of what variously seem to be stars, planet, black holes, micro-organisms, a human eyeball, or artfully arranged disco lights. It seems to draw from 2001’s famous Star Gate sequence; like Kubrick and Snow, it uses abstract visual effects to pull viewers out of naturalistic interpretations of the images on screen.

The film plunges into the abyss in its images of the inhuman violence inflicted against the protagonist’s victims. With faint, sexy music playing in the background, an enamored and oblivious man follows the woman’s swaying hips through a darkened doorway. The camera pans backwards through the door, revealing the man to have stumbled into a seemingly endless, empty plane of darkness, as he haplessly and eagerly strips, whilst stumbling forwards. As the man continues, he begin to sink with each step, as if into a quagmire, eventually leaving only his head visible. As a chilling scene involving a subtle but blood-curdling jump scare later reveals, the men are stored in the wet stuff of this cave, before eventually being sucked of their internal organs, leaving only a mass of skin drifting in the dim waters.

The abyss, in this instance, is not just placed within the frame, but becomes the location of the scene itself, a scene of violent sexual desire which destroys straight masculinity. What is this hidden erotic force that is so poisonous to the straight male gaze? We could read the named protagonist in terms of trans experiences of alienation. In early scenes, the woman blankly ponders clothes and make-up in a department store. Later, when an elderly man kindly takes her in, the two begin to make love; but, she gets nervous, inspecting the space between her legs with a lamp and ultimately abandoning him. As Willow Maclay writes for her feminist film blog, the film is “not a pretty portrait of being trans, but it’s one that I feel is accurate as an allegorical telling of our place in this world for a society that doesn’t want us.” [12]  In A Fantastic Woman, an empty locker reveals the ghost story of the narrative, the haunting disappointment faced by a trans woman in mourning; here, a character of inhuman sex is identified with such an emptiness, a trench in which heterosexuality drowns.

Both films in this sense conceive of the trans woman as a stranger or outsider, a figure with a secret, a disguise or a silent burden which the camera’s scrutiny tries to unpack. This conception can be the opportunity for both sympathy and alienation from the film, as it both captures the suspicion to which trans folks are subject as an everyday form of exclusion, whilst also participating in that suspicion. A Fantastic Woman treats the issue in a socially realist style, attempting to convey the mundane difficulties faced by Mariana in her struggle for social belonging and security; in this sense, it speaks to the legal and cultural struggle over transgender rights currently playing out in Chile. [13] In Under the Skin, by contrast, the trans woman is not already present in the ordinary world of Glasgow, but arrives as an outsider, a strange and recent apparition. This could lend itself to the claim that trans women are invented, hostile outsiders to the ‘natural’ (or least established) world of gender. However, the weird empathy felt by Maclay for the protagonist suggests another reading.

The final scenes of Under the Skin push the darkness embodied in the mysterious protagonist further. The woman escapes to a forest, meets a logger there and tries to take shelter in a dilapidated bothy; the logger then returns and tries to rape her. She runs into the forest, and eventually stops, stripping away her human skin (a still animate mask of Scarlett Johannson) to reveal black flesh underneath. Skin color is more obviously a signifier of race than gender, and so we might read this  final revelation as a moment of blackface, in the long-running history of racially coded monsters in Western horror cinema. Following this, the horrified logger returns with a petrol can, burning her to death in the snow whose gentle falling fills the final shot of the film. The revealing of her blackness opens her to a kind of ultra-violence motivated by racialised terror. The void here is located underneath the (white) skin of the queer monster, a skin which at once disguises species, sex and race.

Under the Skin 1'39'35

That the abyss is transferred here from the situation of the film to the body of its protagonist seems to finally indicate that trans embodiment is poisonous, deathly and pathological in itself; the ideological projection of a threat onto trans women is found to have been there in her body all along. In turn, this is coded by the easy, racist convention of black bodies being a locus of horrific violence. [14] The protagonist is seen is an outsider always marked as deathly, in an obscure racialised and gendered logic which blunts the pointedness of its opening scenes, in which the straight white male gaze is so brutally destroyed.

That the corrosive stuff which attacks the woman’s straight white male prey is watery also points to the persistent presence of water in the mis-en-abyme. The woman’s lair in Under the Skin is wet and dank, and so bears a distant relation to Michael Snow’s silent Atlantic ocean waves, though with a very different visual realisation. In both, though, the camera approaches the water as a location of desire, as with the images of Iguaza Falls in A Fantastic Woman. This latter promises luxury and social mobility specifically where the former are more erotic, or simply abstract, in their connotations.

It’s not clear that we can derive a generalised sense of what the water promises for the camera from these. We could place these images alongside the ‘Sunken Place’ of Jordan Peele’s Get Out, a psychic aquatic void into which the protagonist Chris is cast. Within the film’s dense and complex set of symbols of the legacy of anti-black racism, the Sunken Place has been read specifically as representing the legacy of the Middle Passage. [15] The ocean there is a repository of violence which threatens to drown its subject. The Shining’s elevator which opens to let out a torrent of menstrual blood to an empty hallway is another such void which drowns the camera in a violent deluge. The mis-en-abyme is oceanic inasmuch as it is shimmering and captivating, but also deep, gushing and foreboding, always threatening to overwhelm the viewer it incites.

Abyssal closet:

Whether specific social and material tensions, or something more oblique, the mis-en-abyme constitutes itself around repressed, marginal and frustrated aspects of the social imaginary. As the camera encounters this abyss, its riddling depth is opened but never totally disclosed. Often, coming out of the closet is framed as a singular event, in which the secreted desires, longings, fantasies, dresses, lipsticks, porn mags, binders and dildos of queer intrigue are finally, completely brought to light. We are invited into an appealing, optimistic narrative of finally proclaiming ourselves to the world, in a singular and definitive heartfelt speech, intimate letter or Facebook update.

The more oblique experiences I have considered here call for an epistemology of the abyssal closet more complex than this simple linear narrative of invisibility and (subsequent, decisive, self-nominated) discovery. To explore the abyss of sexual repression might implicate us in desires and fears more complex than we can fully articulate or image. It opens a “space of silence, which is there alongside the imaginary pull of cultural and ideological representations without denying or obliterating them,” to quote critic Teresa de Lauretis’ earlier reflections on feminist politics and experimental cinema. [16] 

It might, as in Mulholland Drive, expose us to corrosive trauma or, as in A Fantastic Woman, lead to frustration in the face of ingrained social exclusion. It entails confronting that which is deathly in our sexual drives. Repressed anxiety does not just work on the axis of sexual orientation either; a queer political gaze also needs to face class inequality and racist violence. Opening the closet does not necessarily produce desire or identity as an easily handled, legible object; instead, it may open up an uncontrolled flood of sexo-political repressions. Experimental camerawork and estranging gazes go some way to visualising the weird effects of these repressions. The punctures that these repressions leave in a scene frighten and fascinate us with their secluded content, whilst the wavelengths of queer desire remain enigmatic.

 

Notes and Citations

[1]       Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. Epistemology of the Closet. Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991.

[2]      Michael Snow, director. Wavelength. 1967.

[3]      Stanley Kubrick, director. 2001: A Space Odyssey. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1968.

[4]     Stanley Kubrick, director. The Shining. Warner Bros., 1980.

[5]     Fredric Jameson. “Historicism in The Shining.” Signatures of the Visible, Routeledge, 1990, pp. 82–98. p. 123.

Mark Fisher on his culture critical theory and culture blog, k-punk, has expanded on Jameson’s reading of The Shining in a way pertinent to my argument here. See Mark Fisher. “Home is where the haunt is: The Shining’s Hauntology” k-punk, 23 Jan. 2006, k-punk.abstractdynamics.org/archives/007252.html.

[6]      Geoffery Cocks, “Death by Typewriter: Stanley Kubrick, the Holocaust, and The Shining.” Deep Focus: Stanley Kubrick, Film and the Uses of History, edited by Geoffery Cocks, James Diedrick and Glenn Perusek, University of Wisconsin, 2006, pp. 185 – 217.

[7]  David Lynch, director, Mulholland Drive. Universal Pictures, 2001.

It is worth noting that Lynch’s use of the mis-en-abyme draws heavily from two previous experimental films, namely Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid’s 1943 Meshes of the Afternoon and Ingmar Bergmen’s 1966 Persona. In Meshes of the Afternoon, a dreaming woman follows a cloaked figure with a mirror for a face, echoed in Mulholland Drive mirror motifs and portrayal of identity as a kind of reflexive void. Bergmen employs mis-en-abyme by interpolating visuals from his previous films into the flow of Persona, which portrays a similarly oblique narrative of transferred identities to that of Mulholland Drive. Clearly, the use of gaps and obstinate reflections to portray tension around feminine identity is widespread.

[8]    Sebastián Leilo, director, A Fantastic Woman. Sony Pictures Classics, 2017.

[9]     Johan Renck, director. Lazarus. Performance by David Bowie, Lazarus, Youtube, 7 Jan. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-JqH1M4Ya8.

[10]      Johan Renck, director. Blackstar. Performance by David Bowie, Lazarus, Youtube, 19 Nov. 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kszLwBaC4Sw.

[11]      Jonathan Glazer, director. Under the Skin. StudioCanal, 2014.

[12]     Maclay, Willow. “Under the Skin’s Transgender Allegory.” Curtsies and Hand Grenades, 8 Mar. 2018, curtsiesandhandgrenades.blogspot.com/2018/03/under-skins-transgender-allegory.html.

[13]    Ernesto Londoño, and Pascale Bonnefoy. “Oscar for ‘A Fantastic Woman’ Bolsters Chile Gender Identity Bill.” The New York TImes, 5 Mar. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/03/05/world/americas/chile-vega-oscar-transgender.html.

[14]    On the strained relation between anti-black ultraviolence and queer oppression, see Calvin Warren. Onticide: Afropessimism, Queer Theory & Ethics. Ill Will Editions [2015].

[15]     For a thorough discussion of Get Out’s symbolic coding of racism, see Robert Jones, and Law Ware. “Get the Fuck Outta Here: A Dialogue on Jordan Peele’s GET OUT” Son of Baldwin, Medium, 27 Feb. 2017, medium.com/@SonofBaldwin/get-the-fuck-outta-here-a-dialogue-on-jordan-peeles-get-out-831fef18b2b3.

[16]   Teresa de Lauretis. “Aesthetic and Feminist Theory: Rethinking Women’s Cinema.” New German Critique, no. 34, 1985, pp. 154–175. Winter. p. 162. I would add that this ‘space of silence’ can indeed destroy or corrode what is explicit, mimetic and recognisable by folding them into darkness or a withdrawn self-reflexivity; still, as in Leilo’s work for instance, this silence or emptiness can also exist as an unanticipated puncture within an empathetically realist film world.

 

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