Self-Power | Self-Play: 50 Years of Erotic Portraiture by Linda Troeller

The Museum of Sex NYC is pleased to announce Self Power|Self Play: 50 years of Erotic Portraiture by Linda Troeller. For half a century, artist Linda Troeller (b. 1949) has used the camera as a tool for sensual empowerment. Self Power|Self Play demonstrates Troeller’s early commitment to challenge social taboos and explore uninhibited sexual identity

September 26, 2022 NEW YORK, NY – The Museum of Sex is pleased to announce Self Power | Self Play: 50 years of Erotic Portraiture by Linda Troeller. For half a century, artist Linda Troeller (b. 1949) has used the camera as a tool for sensual empowerment.

The first museum retrospective of Troeller’s work in New York City, Self Power | Self Play will feature over sixty erotic photographs on loan from the artist’s studio and Bryn Mawr College Special Collections which highlight her radical and playful photographic practice. The museum will host a private opening reception on the evening of Monday, October 17th and the exhibition will be open to the public on Wednesday, October 19th.

Self Power | Self Play demonstrates Troeller’s early commitment to challenge social taboos and explore uninhibited sexual identity. Since 1973, when she first took a self-portrait, Troeller has strategically utilized her photographic practice to embolden female intimacy, pleasure, masturbation, and orgasm. Now in her 70s, she continues to take subversive and erotic self-portraits. 

Informed by apprenticeships with major artists including Georgia O’Keeffe, Ansel Adams, and Annie Leibovitz in the 1970s and 80s, Troeller directs her lens to nature, water, and the bedroom, where she and her subjects relish in the power and play of the female-identifying body. With great care, Troeller witnesses and documents herself and her subjects in spaces of intimacy and sexual awakening. The longevity of Troeller’s practice, as well as the range of her subjects’ ages, demonstrate how pleasure endures and evolves over time. 

“Marking Linda’s first museum retrospective in New York City, Self Power | Self Play highlights the dynamism and historical significance of her career,” says co-curator Emily Shoyer. “By juxtaposing images taken between 1974 and 2022 from over six different series, we hope to demonstrate how Linda has always, and continues to, bravely assert that we are all worthy of bodily liberation, autonomy, and pleasure.” 

Self Power | Self Play will be open to the public from October 19, 2022 through January 9, 2023. This exhibition is co-curated by Emily Shoyer (Curator at Large) and Emily Alesandrini (Guest Independent Curator). Shoyer and Alesandrini are both pursuing their doctoral studies in the History of Art at Bryn Mawr College. 

 

Maria, 30, filmmaker, Chelsea Hotel, 1998 (from Erotic Lives of Women Book) Linda Troeller

 

About The Museum of Sex

The mission of the Museum of Sex is to preserve and present the history, evolution and cultural significance of human sexuality. The Museum produces exhibitions, publications and programs that bring the best of current scholarship to the widest possible audiences and is committed to encouraging public enlightenment, discourse and engagement. All guests must be 18 years or older with a valid proof of ID. [Official Website]

 

Self-Portrait Annie Leibovitz’s Workshop, Ansel Adame Workshops, Yosemite, 1987

About Linda Troeller

Linda Troeller (b. 1949) has long been seduced by, and continues to seduce her viewers through the camera. Since Georgia O’Keeffe encouraged her to take up photography as an intern at Ghost Ranch in 1970, Troeller has strategically utilized her practice to embolden those around her. First with a Rollei and later with a 35mm Leica double-stroke, Troeller used her cameras to subvert social norms and gender expectations. In 1974 she photographed a subject in a cut-off wedding gown standing above a sharp cactus, her dress ripped at the waist to expose her genitals above the threatening pricks. The Village Voice published this work, Bridal Rite (1974), as an embodiment of the artist’s early and continued, yet historically neglected, commitment to challenging taboos and exploring uninhibited sexuality. Later that same year, Troeller served as a model for Ansel Adams’s Nude in the Landscape workshop in Yosemite, CA. Inspired by photographers Eikoh Hosoe and Lucien Clergue who mentored her during the course, Troeller utilized this intimacy with the earth to further explore her sexual self.

Troeller grew up in Toms River, New Jersey. Being seen and captured by the camera was a regular occurrence in the artist’s youth; her peers and family members commented on her photogenic nature and she participated in numerous beauty pageants. Determined to strive for a freedom of sexual expression untethered to tradition or the voyeurism of others, Troeller began to push artistic boundaries. One of her undergraduate photo-journalism professors at West Virginia University (WVU) once chastised Troeller for capturing a nude male model running past Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater in an experimental photographic series. Despite this critical feedback, Troeller was committed to her broadening practice. After graduating in 1971 from the Reed School of Journalism at WVU, she pursued a Master’s degree at the Newhouse School of Public Communications and later a Master’s in Fine Arts (MFA) in Photography at Syracuse University. Her MFA portfolio project at Syracuse titled, “Greenhouse and Beyond” encouraged her female subjects to embrace and revel in their nudity amidst nature in an effort to upend expectations of ladylike behavior. After she graduated with her MFA in 1975, Troeller continued to explore non-traditional
activist photography.

Self-Portrait, Sea Cave, 1980

In the 1980s, after a failed romantic relationship, Troeller searched for a sense of self and sensuousness in water. She traveled to Mexico, Morocco, Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan photographing herself and her subjects in states of undress, moving through bodies of water. In 1987, she served as a studio assistant for Annie Liebovitz, and in the 1990s, she published the first of several photographic monographs titled Healing Waters (Aperture and Marvel, 1998).

“Bridal Rite,” 1974. (From Greenhouse and Beyond Portfolio) Linda Troeller

Two photo projects structured Troeller’s work in the 1990s: the TB-AIDS Diary and Erotic Lives of Women series. Featured in the New York Times in 1990, TB-AIDS Diary tells the tale of a TB patient in the 1930s, based on the artist’s mother’s experience with the disease, juxtaposed in polaroids and text related to the experience of an HIV-AIDS patient in the 1990s suffering from illness and social stigma. Troeller received a New Jersey Arts Grant and the Woman of Achievement Award from Douglass College in 1991 for the project. In 1994, Troeller moved into the Chelsea Hotel, living in the historical home of some of New York’s most well-known artists and creatives such as Tennessee Williams, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan until she moved out due to construction in 2013. Troeller’s long interest in the sexual emancipation of women inspired her collaboration with Marion Schneider whom she met in 1994. For four years they traveled to interview and photograph 34 women about their erotic lives and intimate experiences. Published in 1998 by Scalo, The Erotic Lives of Women was called, “one of the most gutsy and imaginative erotic books of the decade,” by Susie Bright in the New York Times. An exhibition of the photographs from Erotic Lives opened at Fotohof Gallery, Salzburg, and traveled to Berlin and Weimar, Germany. Sixteen years later, the duo published Orgasm: Photographs & Interviews (Daylight Books, 2014), as an intergenerational, cross-cultural conversation between women, surveying the orgasmic sensation. In the 2000s, Troeller photographed three fashion catalogs for the Apolda Museum in Germany and exhibited Apolda Fashion, 2005 at Centro Colombo Gallery, Medellin in
2006. She returned to Colombia to teach self-portraiture to impoverished women in 2010 for the University of Antioquia.

Pool, New Smyrna Beach,Florida 2017 Linda Troeller

Five years later, Troeller published Living in the Chelsea Hotel (Schiffer Publishing, 2015) featuring over seventy images the artist took while residing in the iconic hotel. In the last decade, Troeller held major exhibitions at Leica Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Kulturfabrik, Apolda, Germany; the Griffin Museum,Winchester, MA; iLon Art Gallery and Laurence Miller Gallery in New York, NY. She has lectured at the School of Visual Arts, New York University, Parsons School of Design, Yale University, Salzburg Summer Art Academy, New Orleans Photo Alliance, and at Ryerson University and served as a professor of photography at Stockton College, Indiana University, and Bournemouth College. Her work is in the collections of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University; Harvard University; Syracuse University; Bryn Mawr College; the University of Texas, Austin; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the
Norton Simon Museum of Art; the National Museum of Women in the Arts; and the Smithsonian Institution. Today, Linda Troeller continues to take erotic and empowering self-portraits as well as landscapes and portraits. She develops these photographs at her studio in Lakewood, NJ. where she lives with her husband, fellow photographer, and collaborator, Lothar Troeller. [Official Website]

Self-Portrait, Lloyd Hotel, Amsterdam, 2011

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