Silvia Kurr

4F Contemporary Ekphrasis
Session 4 – July 2, 15:30 – 17:30

Ekphrastic Transformations of the Nude in Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In and Nuala Ní Chonchúir’s Nude

Since its first mention in the first century CE, the concept of ekphrasis has been subject to a long history of redefinition and expansion. The aim of this article is to provide a new angle on the old concept by exploring the peculiarities and functions of contemporary literary and filmic ekphrasis in the light of new materialist theories. I argue that ekphrasis should be understood as a dynamic multifaceted concept sensitive to changes in representational practices and cultural environments. Through a comparative analysis of ekphrases in Pedro Almodóvar’s film The Skin I Live In and Nuala Ní Chonchúir’s collection of short stories Nude, this article makes two points: firstly, the defamiliarizing transformations of paintings bring out the dynamic nature of representational practices and posit representations as phenomena in the ongoing process of their materialization; secondly, the shift of perspective brought about by ekphrasis disrupts the familiar pattern of the visual consumption of the female bodily form by foregrounding the embodied experience of objectification.


Silvia Kurr is a PhD student in Comparative Literature at the University of Tartu. She holds a Master’s degree in Literature, Visual Culture and Film from Tallinn University and the Estonian Academy of Arts. Her scholarly interests include comparative literature, semiotics, art history, film, and intermedial studies. Silvia’s PhD project Reading Between Codes: Ekphrasis in (Post)modernist Literature and Film aims to shatter the boundaries between literary, film, and art studies by applying the concept of ekphrasis beyond literature.