Dan Smith – The Corporeal Witness

The Corporeal Witness in Katie Green’s Lighter Than my Shadow

Abstract:

Katie Green’s Lighter Than My Shadow (2013), a 500 page graphic autobiography, offers an account of anorexia  that indirectly evokes the zombie as a model for alienation, suffering, recovery and witnessing. The figure of the zombie evoked here is not a monster in the conventional sense, but a corporeal protagonist pushed to the limits of cognition, an embodied subject that can no longer make claims to agency or representation. Green makes use of her medium to allow us to see how, as a girl with an eating disorder, she saw herself. The narrative images also allow us to see what young Katie cannot. As her weight loss accelerates, the narrative reveals how close the author/protagonist came to a barely human condition, the body as closer to death than life. This is the zombie as a physical and psychic condition of bodily emaciation and the loss of agency, not as a trope of horror genres, but as a transformation of the human body, brought about through distorted relations between cognition and corporeal anatomy. The concepts of distorting mirrors and hierarchies of disgust that Flusser playfully employs find disturbing correlations in Green’s narrative.

Dan Smith is a Senior Lecturer at Chelsea College of Arts, UAL

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