From Becoming-Woman to Becoming-Imperceptible: Self-Styled Death and Virtual Female Corpse in Digital Portraits of Cancer
Nøgleord:Cancer photography, cancer aesthetics, Rosi Braidotti, Posthuman Death, Becoming-imperceptible, Becoming-woman
Contemporary textual and visual representations of cancer engage self-reflectively with death and dying, yet they often rely on normative notion of death as the end of an individual life. This article focuses on stylised cancer portraits of the young German Nana Stäcker which she took in collaboration with her mother and professional photographers during her chemotherapy and until her death. Intervening in the field of Queer Death Studies this article explores if and how these images allow us to rethink normative Western notions of death. Drawing on Rosi Braidotti’s posthuman theory of death and of female subjectivity, I argue that the photo shoots recast Nana’s illness and dying as a gendered and creative process of subject formation beyond individual death. Through creating aestheticised and eroticised camp images, Nana playfully performs und subverts a range of iconic Western femininities and styles both life and death as a constant becoming. Portraits of Nana as virtual female corpse further highlight this continuity of life and death by reinserting death into life. While these images resist a necropolitical engagement with cancer and dying, they suggest an impersonal and affirmative understanding of death that opens up bioethical questions about contemporary cultures of longevity and health.
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