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Pain and the Cinesthetic Subject in Black Swan

Steen Ledet Christiansen

Keywords: affect; biopower; cinesthetic subject; gender; mimetic innervation; sensation; violence

Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2010) produces a cinesthetic subject that articulates issues of gendered violence but at the same time also opens up space for producing a new subject outside of biopower. Tracing the production of pain as a way of feeling gendered violence rather than simply understanding it, the article also argues that Nina Sawyer’s transformation is an act of subversive becoming. Pain is produced by the film’s formal properties, pulling us along as viewers, and producing new modes of sensing biopower’s cultural techniques and subjugation of bodies. At the same time, pain becomes a path to a new mode of being.

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