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Sandra Lahire

UK, 1984
15 minutes, Colour, Opt.
Original format: 16mm Film
Available formats: HD Digital file

SANDRA LAHIRE’s film uses a combination of live action and rostrum work to communicate the experience of anorexia and to analyse the cultural causes of the condition. ‘I am so aware of my body’, we are told on the soundtrack, whilst images of caged wild birds are intercut with images of the rib cage of the film’s subject, the film-maker herself. The pressures placed upon women to be thin are articulated by an account of a new technique for surgical removal of fat. Once again, a woman who does not conform to male expectations in terms of her body-shape is classified as sick, in need of surgery. The constantly recurring motif of cages, bars and railway lines reiterates the feeling of entrapment throughout the film. Yet, taking the camera into her own hands, and revealing this process to the spectator by using a mirror, the film-maker shows herself in control of this representation of a woman’s body. The film ends with a poem by Sylvia Plath, ‘The Thin People’, which speaks of people who starve themselves, and people who are actually deprived – a powerful note upon which to end, locating the condition of anorexia firmly in western patriarchal culture.