IntroductionReasonable Doubt 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 film 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.
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.