Only Women Can Do That: Linda Troeller

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View Exhibition: Personal Opera

English | German below  | Interview: Linda Troeller

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, there was a storm of contacts between the previously separated people. The citizens of the still existing GDR, locked up behind the wall for so long, discovered the world for themselves and the world came to get to know the communist east. In this great whirlwind, I met Linda Troeller for the first time. She had traveled to Leipzig to meet women and to photograph them in their surroundings. At that time, I was working as a ballet master and choreographer at the Schauspielhaus Leipzig and as a dance teacher at the State Ballet School. I introduced Linda to many women and was also her city guide at the same time. During these excursions we found perfect backdrops for Linda’s photos. Her way of working as a photographer was extremely interesting to me. It was the exact opposite of what happens in choreography. In choreography, every movement, every gaze is placed. Nothing is left to chance. In contrast, Linda’s photos were hardly posed. They arose more out of spontaneity. They appeared almost by accident. Linda’s sense of the moment and the situation was fascinating.

When I was in New York for the first time in the mid-1990s, Linda invited me over. At that time, she was living in the legendary Chelsea Hotel. When the closure of the hotel became known in the late 2000s, there was a large art party in the hotel, which was hosted by the artists who lived there. Linda invited me to this event and during this encounter our friendship deepened. This resulted in my first work as a curator. During Art Basel/Miami Beach 2011 I showed a large Linda Troeller retrospective. Part of the exhibition illustrated her biography in photos. The other part presented outstanding photos that mark her career.

English | German below  | Interview: Linda Troeller

© Linda Troeller – Self-portrait


Als die Berliner Mauer 1989 fiel, gab es einen Sturm von Kontakten zwischen den bis dahin voneinander getrennten Menschen. Die so lange hinter der Mauer eingesperrten Buerger der noch existierenden DDR entdeckten die Welt fuer sich und die Welt kam, um den kommunistischen Osten kennenzulernen. In diesem großen Wirbel traf ich Linda Troeller das erst mal. Sie war nach Leipzig gereist, um Frauen zu treffen und sie in ihrem Umfeld zu fotografieren. Zu dieser Zeit arbeitete ich als Ballettmeisterin und Choreografin am Schauspielhaus Leipzig und als Tanz Paedagogin an der Staatlichen Ballettschule. Ich machte Linda mit vielen Frauen bekannt und war ganz nebenbei auch ihre Stadtfuehrerin. Während dieser Exkursionen fanden wir perfekte Kulissen für Lindas Fotos. Ihrer Arbeitsweise als Fotografin war für mich hochinteressant. Es war das genaue Gegenteil von dem, was in der Choreographie passiert. In der Choreographie ist jede Bewegung, jeder Blick gestellt. Nichts ist dem Zufall ueberlassen. Im Gegensatz dazu waren Lindas Fotos kaum gestellt. Sie entstanden mehr aus der Spontanitaet heraus. Fast erschienen sie zufaellig. Lindas Gespür für den Moment und die Situation war faszinierend.

Als ich Mitte der 90er Jahre das erste Mal in New York war, lud Linda mich zu sich ein. Zu diesem Zeitpunkt lebte sie im legendaeren Chelsea Hotel. Als die Schließung des Hotels Ende der 2000er Jahren bekannt wurde, gab es eine große Kunstparty im Hotel, welche von den dort lebenden Kuenstlern ausgerichtet wurde. Linda lud mich zu diesem Event ein und waehrend dieser Begegnung vertiefte sich unsere Freundschaft. Daraus resultierte meine erste Arbeit als Kuratorin. Waehrend Art Basel/Miami Beach 2011 zeigte ich eine große Linda Troeller Retrospektive. Ein Teil der Ausstellung veranschaulichte ihre Biographie in Fotos. Der andere Teil praesentierte herausragenden Fotos, die ihre Karriere kennzeichnen.

© Sabine Kutt
VJIC Theme Editor

Conversation with Linda Troeller
Videos may go full screen.

© Sabine Kutt, Linda Troeller and VASA
View Exhibition: Personal Opera

Artist Statement About “Personal Opera”

© Linda Troeller, Self-portrait

In my self-portraits I call on a private, subjective sensation to gather personal associations in an atmospheric and emotional style. My photography works directly and inseparably with changes whether it is a sensual image, or an image reflecting on identity or on memory. I wish to discover tranquility, unearth sadness, unusual beauty and the playfulness of the soul.  When the viewer sees the work, it is my hope that its essence, punctum links to a larger cultural recollection that brings closure and discovery to their own progression. During lockdown I started walking in a nearby forest which led to challenging awareness of the bareness of Winter and the fragility of my age. Time had slipped away and my metamorphosis unwinds. Yet I continue to face myself without shame or imposed social fabric rules. The self-portrait is a part of my authentication process unveiling pain, freedoms, spirituality, mortality and yet is unleashing new borders to explore with my camera.

© Linda Troeller, 2021


After graduating from WVU in Journalism, MS in Photojournalism from Newhouse School of Communications, and MFA from School of Art, Syracuse University I assisted Ralph Gibson, George Tice, and Annie Leibowitz at the Ansel Adams Summer Workshops, Yosemite Park.  As my art practice evolved, Robert Heineken, Director at UCLA Photography, championed my first portfolio and show at Everson Museum, “Greenhouse and Beyond.”

© Linda Troeller – Self-portrait

I have been a visiting artist with my TB-AIDS Diary at Yale and at the University of the Arts I printed my portfolio that led to the Aperture book, Healing Waters. At Arles Festival, France two European editorial agencies, Agence Vu, Paris, and Grazia Neri, Milan, signed me for assignments to photograph stories on water for Liberation to Marie Claire. Galerie Suzel Berna, Paris exhibited my TB- AIDS Diary, Healing Waters, and Erotic Lives of Women in group shows.

I was invited to exhibit at the Havana Biennial by curator, Juan Alberto Gaviria, who traveled this show in South America from Centro Colombo America Gallery, Colombia. In Germany the Apolda Museum, commissioned me to photograph Fashion Catalogues 2000-2005. For twenty years I had lived at the Chelsea Hotel as my base photographing the iconic architecture and artists. When a new landlord took over in 2011, I became an activist to ‘save the dream palace,’ exhibiting at Leipzig Photo Festive and Schiffer publishing, “Living in the Chelsea Hotel.” In 2016 I went to live at my house in N.J.  where I stored prints and negatives, diaries and letters but awoke to walls ablaze. To recover my archive, I received a Joan Mitchell grant to re-photograph what I had been able to restore and this phase has enlivened my focus on my ongoing self-portraits

View Exhibition: Personal Opera


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