Apply for grants

Talented Art Researchers Were Celebrated

The five scholarship recipients: James Day, Jane Kaisen, Emilie Durholm, Pernille Leth-Espensen, and Jacob Lillemose.

On Wednesday, five young art researchers were presented with scholarships. TheNovo Nordisk Foundation awarded a total of two Mads Øvlisen PhD scholarships of DKK 1.5 million over three years and three Mads Øvlisen postdoctoral fellowships of DKK 1.2 million over two years.

Among the scholars was PhD Pernille Leth-Espensen. Her research project will focus on what happens when art meets the life sciences.

– Science and technology has a huge impact on our lives, and therefore it is very relevent that artists explore the impact of technology on society. The concept of an identity is being challenged when face tranplantations are possible and parts of a body are able to live on even though the person is dead, says Pernille Leth- Espensen.

– A number of philosophical questions about identity, subjectivity and the relation between body and mind gain new relevance as new technologies emerge, and it is e.g. such questions that are highlighted through the works of the artitsts.


Mads Øvlisen, from whom the scholarships have their name, was present during the day and talked, among other things, about the importance of art.

– Art is what prevents us all from constantly thinking the same thing, said Mads Øvlisen, a member of the committee, which awards the scholarships.

The scholarships are being awarded to support research in art history, practice-based art and art & bioscience. The grants are awarded based on applications in open competition.

On the day, the five scholarship recipients all gave short introductions to their research projects before they were presented with diploma and flowers.

Another recipient was PhD and curator Jacob Lillemose. He thanked the committee for the confidence placed in him:

– When someone believes in your ideas, you start to believe in them yourself as well, he said.

Birgitte Nauntofte, CEO of the Novo Nordisk Foundation, congratulated the five researchers – and expressed a hope to see them again soon:

– Last year was the first time we had a day dedicated to the art scholarships. And it is so, that the first time is the first time, the second time it is a tradition. We hope to see you again when next year’s recipients are to be celebrated, so that we in that way can stay in touch.





Age: 35 years
Grant: Mads Øvlisen PhD scholarship in Art History, DKK 1.5 mill. over three years
Project title: Modern women. Migration as a formative context of Danish female artists c. 1860-1910
Project description: (In Danish) Manglende adgang til etablerede kunstinstitutioner var et fælles vilkår for de fleste kvinder med ambitioner om en kunstnerisk karriere frem til slutningen af det 19. århundrede. Kravet på uddannelse medførte en regulær migration af kvindelige kunstnere over det meste af Europa, da kvinderne som oftest var tvunget til at opsøge et erfaringsgrundlag uden for deres nationale rammer. Projektets hovedtese er, at de transnationale relationer og kulturmøder, der opstod som følge af dette vilkår, er helt centrale komponenter for forståelsen af de kvindelige kunstneres produktion. Motivationen for projektet vil være at undersøge, hvorvidt denne produktion kan analyseres ud over en national, historisk og geografisk afgrænset kontekst og i stedet læses ind i en mere international, opdateret videnstradition. Projektet har sit primære fokus på den første generation af det moderne gennembruds kvindelige danske kunstnere, der i modsætning til de følgende generationer endnu ikke havde nationale, statsstøttede uddannelsesmuligheder.
Institution: University of Copenhagen and The National Gallery of Denmark.


Age: 33
Grant: Mads Øvlisen PhD scholarship in practice-based art, DKK 1.5 mill. over three years
Project title: Translational Aesthetics: artistic research and aesthetics of resistance in response to the global turn in contemporary art (working title).
Project description: In the context of globalization and the global turn in contemporary art I will, by taking outset in my artistic practice, develop a notion of Translational Aesthetics as an artistic research method and aesthetics of resistance. I am invested in transnational political histories that are actively disputed in the present moment and view my artworks as critical translations, which, through an intersectional reading of race, gender, class and sexuality, destabilize and queer dominant discourses and suggest alternative genealogies and political formations. Through practice-based research I will explore how translation as a disruptive artistic strategy and multi-layered aesthetic mode may function as a prism for critical and self-reflexive dialogue.
Institution: University of Copenhagen and The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.




Age: 28
Grant: Mads Øvlisen Postdoctoral fellowship in Art History, DKK 1.2 mill. over two years
Project title: Art History in its Image War
Project description: With several art historians or cultural critics describing conditions of global crisis and image war, this research project will look into how art history can intervene at the level of writing. In particular with a more ‘experimentally’ written art history which responds to the aesthetic breakthroughs in the arts, literature and critical theory of the last century. Language has been seen as an increasingly integrated part of global capitalism and I’ll be arguing for the relevance of art historical writing in coming to terms with this.
Institution: University of Copenhagen.


Age: 39
Grant: Mads Øvlisen Postdoctoral fellowship in practice-based art, DKK 1.2 mill. over two years
Project title: The Art History of Disasters
Project description: Based on an exhibition space that has recently received a 2-year grant from the Danish Arts Council and an association with the research project Changing Disasters at Copenhagen Centre for Disaster Research at the University of Copenhagen the postdoctoral project ”The Art History of Disasters” will consist of a series of 18 exhibitions that focuses on art’s treatment of disasters – real as well as fictive – both historically and in relation to the present. The exhibitions will feature Danish and international art of the highest quality. The ambition of the postdoctoral project, the curatorial practice and individual exhibitions, is to engage in a relation of exchange with the research at Changing Disasters and to expand and contribute to the broad interdisciplinary approach.
Institution: University of Copenhagen.


Age: 36
Grant: Mads Øvlisen Postdoctoral fellowship in art & bio- and natural science, DKK 1.2. mill. over two years.
Project title: Artistic Interventions in Biotechnology
Project description: In the past 15 years, an increasing number of artists have begun to use various technologies from the natural sciences in their artworks. Among these a number of artists create living works with cell and tissue culture methods. The artist group TC&A have created a small living jacket, and SymbioticA Research Group have connected brain cells in a Petri dish with a robotic arm that makes a drawing. It is the thesis of this project that the recent technological development in the life sciences affects the way we consider the body and questions of identity and subjectivity, and that the artists with their works explore the philosophical, ethical and biopolitical implications of this technological development.
Institution: University of Aarhus.