In Medias Res. A Tribute to Mieke Bal
17 Mar 2017

Teijin Auditorium
3 - 5 pm
Adults € 15,- / Students € 7.50,- / Museum card + € 3,- surcharge


On Friday, March 17th, the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis (ASCA) organizes a special symposium in collaboration with the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. This symposium is a tribute to Mieke Bal: a renowned cultural and art theorist, critic and video artist.

In Medias Res (‘In the midst of the action’) is a particularly appropriate way of describing the career of Mieke Bal. Her unstoppable energy, curiosity and creativity led to the invention of interdisciplinary methods which have blurred the boundaries between academic disciplines and the development of new academic programs, and Bal has inspired multiple generations of young scholars. Since her official retirement she has remained active in various fields: she has continued her academic work while becoming a successful artist, curator, and filmmaker.

During the symposium, various colleagues from the wide range of areas in which Mieke Bal has played a role will address the enduring impact of her work.

In Medias Res is also the title of Mieke’s most recent book, on the Indian artist Nalini Malani. After the symposium this book will be launched by Mieke herself. The opening of the exhibition Nalini Malani: Transgressions will take place on the same day.


3:00       Doors open
3:15       Opening by Patricia Pisters
3:35       Short presentations by Jonathan Culler, Jonneke Bekkenkamp, ​​Griselda Pollock, Maaike Meijer, Michelle Williams Gamaker, Ria Lemaire and Esther Peeren
4:45       Final remarks by Mieke Bal
5:00       Book launch and opening of exhibition Nalini Malani: Transgessions


Mieke Bal is a cultural theorist, critic, and video artist. She works on feminism, migratory culture, psychoanalysis, and the critique of capitalism. Her books include a trilogy on political art: Endless Andness (on abstraction) and Thinking in Film (on video installation), both 2013, and Of What One Cannot Speak (2010, on sculpture), as well as A Mieke Bal Reader (2006). In 2016 In Medias Res: Inside Nalini Malani’s Shadow Plays (Hatje Cantz) and Tiempos trastornados (AKAL, in Spanish, on the politics of visuality) appeared. Her video project Madame B, a collaboration with Michelle Williams Gamaker, is widely exhibited: in 2017 at Museum Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova in Turku, and combined with paintings by Edvard Munch at the Munch Museum in Oslo. Her most recent film, Reasonable Doubt, on René Descartes and Queen Christina of Sweden, premiered in Kraków, Poland, on 23 April 2016.


Nalini Malani (1946, Karachi) is an artist who combines a variety of mediums in a unique way in order to cast attention towards political engagement. A refugee herself as a result of the partition of India and Pakistan, her work is permeated by themes such as migration, globalization, poverty, and the oppression of women. In Malani’s works these topical issues are often combined with motifs from classical literature and mythology.

More information about the exhibition Nalini Malani: Transgressions can be found here.

Mieke Bal - Reasonable doubt

Opening Saturday 18 March at 5 PM, Herengracht 401, Amsterdam

Reasonable Doubt, the latest film project by cultural theorist and critic Mieke Bal, is an experiment to audio-visualise 'thought'. Mixing docu-drama with theoretical fiction, the project stages scenes from the lives of philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650) and the Swedish Queen Kristina (1626-1689). After an intellectual relationship by correspondence, they met in Stockholm, where Descartes died six weeks after arriving, due to the cold.

The installation is not a biography but a series of scenes that constitute a double portrait. Some of the scenes are historical, some are fictionalized to do justice to historical ideas relevant for today. In this project, Mieke Bal looks back from Descartes' last book, The Passions of the Soul and explores the ongoing struggle against dualism in different episodes of his life. She also takes on board the perspective of the women in the dialogues out of which his ideas grew. This is especially suitable in view of the year's focus of Castrum Peregrini on women's perspectives, in a Public Programme curated by Nina Folkersma. 

The exhibition consist of five installation pieces of 30 minutes each, some photographes and a sound piece, installed in the historical site of Castrum Peregrini. Seating is provided to encourage immersive looking.

The exhibition will be opened on Saturday 18 March at 5 pm with a conversation between Mieke Bal and Nina Folkersma. Language: English.