Looking In: The Art of Viewing
with an introduction by Norman Bryson.
Amsterdam: G & B Arts International, 2001
back cover text:
Mieke Bal is one of Europe’s foremost theorists and critics. Her work within feminist art history and cultural studies provides a fascinating alternative to prevailing thinking in these fields. In this remarkable collection she outlines a theory of visual experience as an ongoing struggle between cultural modes that seek to determine and confine the visual subject.
Ranging across an astonishing variety of objects and institutions of art - from the culture of the museum to the visual representation of rape, from the baroque of Caravaggio and the neo-baroque of David Reed to the visuality of the closet in Proust - Bal reveals the unsuspected capacities of the act of viewing to reshape and redirect the dominant cultural narratives. She brings a keen visual sense to these studies and an understanding of how literature represents visuality and how the aesthetics within museums affect the cultural artifacts displayed.
In his engaging introduction, eminent art historian Norman Bryson has selected several of Bal’s essays, focusing on her extraordinarily rich and inventive work in visual culture. Bryson, who has had a significant effect on the contemporary practice of visual studies, conveys to the reader why the cumulative effect of Bal’s original approach to the interdisciplinary study of art and visual culture has had such wide-reaching influence.