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Nine Researchers Can Now Officially Call Themselves Mads Øvlisen Scholars

Seven of this year's nine recipients of a Mads Øvlisen scholarship participated in the celebration event.

On Wednesday May 10, nine talented art researchers were presented with scholarships within art research and can therefore now officially call themselves Mads Øvlisen Scholars. The event took place at the annual art fellowship award celebration at the Novo Nordisk Foundation where the recipients, their family, friends and collaborators were invited to participate.

In March, The Novo Nordisk Foundation awarded five Mads Øvlisen PhD-scholarships and four Mads Øvlisen postdoctoral fellowships. The PhD scholars can now spend DKK 1.6 million on a 3-year PhD programme at a Danish university and the Postdoctoral Fellows DKK 1.2 million on a 2-year engagement at a Danish research institution. The scholarships were awarded by the Board of the Foundation based on applications received in open competition and evaluated by the Committee on research in art and art history.

The Chair of the committee Professor Jacob Wamberg and committee member Associate Professor Maria Fabricius Hansen gave a speech and handed flowers and diplomas to each of the awardees.

Approximately 60 guests participated in the celebration and seven of the nine awardees gave a short presentation of their coming research projects.

Below you can read more about the researchers and their projects.



Mads Øvlisen PhD-scholarships (5):

Anna Vestergaard Jørgensen, MA
Age: 28 years
Grant: Mads Øvlisen PhD-scholarship – art history after 1900
Project title: Museum for Discomfort: An Investigation of Art Museums, Critique and Good Experiences
Abstract: Danish artists and curators have increasingly started working with the museum, its collections and history as something problematic or even distressful. Institutional critique is not new, but in a Danish context, it is new that museums initiate artistic and curatorial interventions as a tool to reconsider the museum’s societal role. Especially the Danish and European colonial history is in focus these years. This project will investigate how the art museum can navigate in a frame where it has to offer good and pleasant experiences to the public and at the same time can and will work with the distressful.
Institution: National Gallery of Denmark and University of Copenhagen, Department of Arts and Cultural Studies

Honey Biba Beckerlee, MFA, visual artist
Age: 38 years
Grant: Mads Øvlisen PhD-scholarship – practice-based art
Project title: Digital Matters
Abstract: Within the research field of posthuman aesthetics, the aim of this research project is to develop a theoretical and practical framework of a posthuman, digitally sensible art practice. In response to the paradox between the broad cultural understanding that the internet is fundamentally immaterial versus the accelerated mining industry, threatening to make rare earths and other chemical elements extinct, this project aims to renegotiate notions of immateriality of cyberspace and the digital, as well as definitions of life and non-life.
Institution: The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, University of Aarhus, Faculty of Arts

Helga Just Christoffersen, MA, curator
Age: 34 years
Grant: Mads Øvlisen PhD-scholarship – practice-based curating
Project title: New Commissions: An ontological shift in the status of the exhibition
Abstract: This two-fold practice and theory-based dissertation posits that a group of younger international artists have emerged post-2008 who are making use of exhibition spaces and institutional resources in new ways. Focusing on the process of commissioning new work in an institutional setting, the project will unfold through curatorial practice, fieldwork, and written critical interpretive analysis.
Institution: Kunsthal Aarhus and University of Aarhus, Faculty of Arts

Marie Kølbæk Iversen, MFA, visual artist
Age: 36 years
Grant: Mads Øvlisen PhD-scholarship with an extraordinary potential – practice-based art
Project title: Neo-worlds: The transformative potentialities of fright
Abstract: Triangulating sci-fi, shamanism and feminism, my research focuses on the cosmovisions of female Yawanawá shamans regarding ‘fright’ as transformative potential. I apply the lost Scandinavian shamanist culture ‘Sejd’ as my artistic method to translate Yawanawá cosmovisions to a Scandinavian context as a way of reclaiming the ‘heritage of the defeated’ (cf. Stengers/Pignarre): ritual practices denounced as witchcraft by Reformationist and Enlightenment thinking. Appropriating Yawanawá insights through Sejd is a proposal for ‘re-indigenising’ Western selves for the sake of more sustainable futures. The visions arising in the process will inform sci-fi-inspired artworks to be developed in tandem with my academic research.
Institution: Oslo National Academy of the Arts and University of Aarhus, Faculty of Arts
Helene Engnes Birkeli, MA
Age: 26 years
Grant: Mads Øvlisen PhD-scholarship – art history before 1900
Project title: Translation, Sensation and Colonial Landscapes: A Visual History of the Danish West Indies, 1780-1855
Abstract: This PhD project seeks to explore landscape images in the Danish West Indies, today known as the US Virgin Islands. There is a lack of in-depth art historical studies of art and visual culture produced during the Danish-Norwegian colonial administration of the islands. Material in the National Museum of Denmark and The Danish National Archives, especially paintings, drawings and topographical maps, show a continuing preoccupation with racially organizing spaces. Countering such representations were Afro-Caribbean ways of describing the same spaces, including oral traditions and religious practices. This project seeks to investigate the encounter between such ‘competing’ spatial representations, and how they produced a distinctive colonial visual history.
Institution: University of Copenhagen, Department of Arts and Cultural Studies


James Day, PhD, Postdoc
Age: 31 years
Grant: Mads Øvlisen postdoctoral fellowship – art history
Project title: From the Barricades to the Kitchen: Artistic Research in the Post-Expanded Field
Abstract: This project seeks to outline the compass and critical potential of emerging practices of artistic research. Increasingly, artists are working across and outside of official institutions, experimenting directly with social relations with varying intensities of engagement and withdrawal. ‘From the Barricades’ will trace their lineage in the history of the avant-garde and grounding in the economic restructuring that has taken place since the early 70s.
Institution: University of Copenhagen, Department of Arts and Cultural Studies

Maria Finn, PhD, visual artist
Age: 54 years
Grant: Mads Øvlisen postdoctoral fellowship – practice-based art
Project title: Forgetful Nature
Abstract: ‘Forgetful Nature’ is a practice-based project that investigates two vacant lots, the Beauvais lot in Copenhagen and the Ellstorp lot in Malmö. Both lots have been left in a state of decay, with traces of previous activities, but at the disposition of local citizens. These environments where the vegetation is left to grow freely challenge our usual expectations of green urban areas. A vacant lot contains traces of the past while directing our attention to the future. Thus it functions as a hybrid that soon will be part of developments, but meanwhile offer areas with less control within the city.
Institution: University of Copenhagen, Department for Geosciences and Natural Resource Management

Adam Bencard, PhD, curator
Age: 43 years
Grant: Mads Øvlisen postdoctoral fellowship – art & natural sciences
Project title: You are not alone: Microbiomes as model ecologies in art and science
Abstract: ‘You are not alone’ studies the dynamic and rapidly growing intersections between bio-art practices and microbiome research. While still in its infancy, microbiome research has in the last decade emerged as one of the most prominent fields in the biosciences. It offers a radically different take on long-held views of human development, our sense of self, and connections to our internal and external environments. The project builds on the notion that microbial communities, both in artistic and scientific practices, are increasingly becoming ‘model ecologies’, that is, models for thinking about co-existence and exemplary ways of studying human and nonhuman entanglements, and indeed exploring alternative conceptions of future natures.
Institution: University of Copenhagen, Medical Museion

Josefine Baark, PhD
Age: 28 years
Grant: Mads Øvlisen postdoctoral fellowship – art history
Project title: Reassessing Transcultural Techne: China, Denmark and the Making of Globalization in Miniature Mechanized Aesthetics 1730-1780
Abstract: Tactile and beautiful technologies play a major part in how people view and respond to the world, whether it be eighteenth-century Chinese automata or an Apple iPhone 7. My research tracks the lives of mechanized miniature models representing primarily Chinese, but also European figures, houses and boats built in China and exported to Denmark from 1730. These models reveal innovations in the combination of artistic craftsmanship and technology in their production. In turn, the global trade generated by these innovations enabled new forms of cultural connectedness between China and the West, evident in the use and display of the models.
Institution: University of Copenhagen, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies