Fantasies for Knowledge
Mieke Bal

This lecture considers how knowledge, including such facts-based knowledge as history, is impossible without the help of the imagination. Fantasizing about what could have happened – the “what if?” question – can suggest answers to questions that matter in the present, but that historical sources do not answer. What is at stake in the film Reasonable doubt: Scenes from Two Lives (Mieke Bal, 2016) is the attempt, by means of creative imagining, to audio-visualize thought in process, as social and not individual; as fed by emotion and affect as much as intellect; imagination and dreaming as much as reasoning. In the lecture, I will invoke a few moments, events, or ideas that definitely did not “really” happen, or are unknowable, yet are indispensable for our understanding of the modern conception of the subject. The aesthetic of the film is meant to support this fantasy aspect of knowledge.About the speaker

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.