Highly Endowed Freigeist Fellowship for Jordan Troeller

2022-05-16 Art historian explores the mother principle as a concept of creativity in contemporary art

Lüneburg/Hanover/Berlin. Art historian Dr. Jordan Troeller of the FU Berlin has been awarded a 1.1 million Euro Freigeist Fellowship by the Volkswagen Foundation for her research on creativity in contemporary art. She will pursue her project "M/Other: Creativity, Procreation, and Contemporary Art" over the next six years with her own research group at the Institute for Philosophy and Art Studies at Leuphana University Lüneburg.

Troeller's departure for her project is the observation that, although motherhood is one of the most common themes in the history of Western art, it often presents a one-dimensional and distorted image of the experience. "Contemporary artists, some of whom are mothers themselves, are using their work today to question how we define the boundary between art and non-art, between artificiality and nature, between the production of lifelike images and the production of living bodies," Troeller says.

In her project, she and her research group will use analyses of artworks, interviews with artists and writers, newly discovered archives, and findings from related disciplines in order to locate the origins of this hypothesized maternal paradigm and analyze how it has changed over time. She suspects that in moving from a paradigm of 'creation against procreation' to 'creation as procreation,' those moments of sustaining life may also be our most creative.

Jordan Troeller chose Leuphana as the site for her project because it stands for "innovative and risky research initiatives"--"a quality not often found in the German academic landscape," says the U.S.-born art historian. "My project critically engages with mythologies of motherhood in Western culture and considers how the category of creativity has changed dramatically in recent decades due to changing notions of gender and sexuality. The Institute of Philosophy and Art Studies, and in particular its DFG Research Training Group 'Cultures of Critique,' is an ideal context for rethinking such basic cultural concepts."



With its Freigeist Fellowships, the Volkswagen Foundation addresses excellent and exceptional research personalities who wish to move between established fields of research and pursue risk-taking scholarship. The funding allows young researchers to be given the opportunity to shape their scientific activities optimally with maximum freedom and a clear time perspective.