Mieke Bal

Mieke Bal is an internationally known cultural theorist, critic, and video artist. Her interests range from classical and biblical antiquity, 17th century to contemporary art and modern literature, feminism, migratory culture, mental illness, the critique of capitalism, and the world’s need, against all odds, of rationality. Her many books include a trilogy on political art: Endless Andness (on abstraction) and Thinking in Film (on video installation), both 2013, Of What One Cannot Speak (2010, on sculpture) and A Mieke Bal Reader (2006). She is presently publishing a book on the political force of the shadow plays of Nalini Malani.

Her experimental video documentaries on issues of migration and identity have been internationally exhibited. Her video project, Madame B, with Michelle Williams Gamaker, which offers an artistic critique of capitalism and what is now ravaging the world as neo-liberalism, is widely shown. A five-screen spin-off called Precarity focuses more on the precarious economic situation than on the life of the character Emma. In April 2016 the première of a 5-channel installation and a feature film on the mis-encounter between René Descartes and Queen Kristina of Sweden, leading to the philosopher-of-rationalism’s death, and the two lives preceding that moment, will take place in Kraków, Poland.


Abstract:Movement, Precarity, Affect: Engaging Images”

On the basis of Deleuze’s Bergsonian conception of images I will comment on the ins and outs of our video installation Precarity (with Michelle Williams Gamaker) as an embodied and affectively intense (Deleuze) “lesson in looking”. This entails the experience, for viewers, of the fundamental moving quality of images and the resulting precarity of everything we have been taking as stable in our relationship to the material world. Considering a few examples of the way Flaubert’s narrative prose already “directs” a cinematic mode of reading I will propose that a Deleuzian look enables a relationality between viewer and image, as well as among viewers, that impacts on social habits – an impact that seems an urgent necessity in a age of smart-phonic and xenophobic cultural autism.