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17 Nov 2011

Broadcast Gallery Dublin presents Mieke Bal & Michelle Williams Gamaker

Facing It - Imaging Madness
Broadcast Gallery Dublin


6.00pm Thursday, 17 November 2011
Exhibition times:
18 November-10 December 2011
Thursday (12.00-20.00 hrs) Friday – Saturday 12.00- 16.00 hrs

Brian Fay

Broadcast Gallery DIT Portland Row
Portland Row
Dublin 1

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Facing It - Imaging Madness is part of the Mère Folle Project by Mieke Bal and Michelle Williams Gamaker.

The project constitutes an attempt to offer museum and gallery visitors experiences they don't ordinarily have. In a combination of shock, pleasure, strangeness and beauty, they will make a journey through 'madness', rather than sitting in front of the screen, as in the cinema. It is aimed at people interested in video art, unusual narratives, and uncommon audio-visual sensations ' and mental illness.

This is a project of multiple video installations through which the idea of 'madness' is given a variety of interpretations. It is an experiment in audio-visual story-telling. Distinct from cinema, in the installation the 'second-person', the visitor, is in charge of making the stories through their own itinerary and combination of stories, portraits, and scenes on view. At Broadcast the Space In-Between, Watching the News, Sissi Outside, Landscapes of Madness, Office Hours, Sissi's Treatment will be shown.

Mieke Bal, a cultural theorist and critic, is based at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA), University of Amsterdam. Her interests range from biblical and classical antiquity to 17th century and contemporary art and modern literature, feminism and migratory culture, and madness. Her many books include Of What One Cannot Speak: Doris Salcedo's Political Art (2010), Loving Yusuf (2008), A Mieke Bal Reader (2006), Travelling Concepts in the Humanities (2002) and Narratology (3d edition 2009). She is also a video-artist, making experimental documentaries on migration. Occasionally she acts as an independent curator.

Mostly with the collective Cinema Suitcase, Mieke makes films that seek to facilitate the self-narration of their subjects, encountered on the basis of intimacy, rather than constructing their stories for them. This approach enhances the performative quality of filmmaking as a collective process. The films refrain from deploying narrative voice-over and only contain set sound. Stories are not chronological but emerge from associative links, constituting a kind of 'free indirect style.' These include Separations 83 min. (2009); State of Suspension 82 min. (2008); Becoming Vera 53 min. 2008; Un Trabajo Limpio 21 min. (looped) 2007; Colony 30 min. 2007; Access Denied, 31 min. 2005; Mille et un jours, 45 min. 2004. She also made Nothing is Missing, a multiple-screen video installation, 25-35 minutes (5-15 channels) 2006-present.

Her first fiction feature, A Long History of Madness, with Michelle Williams Gamaker, about psychoanalysis and madness in cultural history, is currently being presented internationally. Also with Michelle, she made a video installation Anachronisms, commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (Sp.).;

- I am interested in how images help articulate and embody thought, in the case at hand, thought about forms of 'otherness' that cut through ethnic, sexual, religious, age- and other groups, namely, 'madness'. I contend that images can perform an equivalent of speech acts; that they can respond ('speak back') to the look cast onto them, and that they can entice viewers to theorize. They are performative. They do something; they act. I call such 'speaking images', which speak back, resist (parts of) my interpretation of them, and make me think, 'theoretical objects.'

- As an inter-disciplinary, international scholar, I have taken this view one step further when, in an inter-ship for which I have not yet a name, I began to supplement my research into contemporary (migratory) culture with filmmaking, as another, more complex, closer, synaesthetic and intimate form of (audio-visual) analysis. At the heart of the film I will present lies the question if it is possible to 'image' madness. Is there an iconography of madness, and if so, how can it avoid stereotyping; and if not, how else can one create a convincing image of madness? And what socio-cultural purpose can such images serve? The lecture is both an autonomous experiment in thought, and an introduction to the film A Long History of Madness. (Bal & Williams Gamaker 2011)
- Mieke Bal