Rosemarie Trockel exhibition set for Edinburgh's Talbot Rice gallery
Major show from influential German contemporary of Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger and Cindy Sherman
As a major exhibition of Rosemarie Trockel’s work makes its only UK stop-off at Talbot Rice, Talitha Kotzé talks to the gallery’s curator about the work of the influential German artist
Rosemarie Trockel’s creative output is as diverse as it is prolific. She is a highly regarded visual artist whose work has been showcased around the globe. In earlier years she teamed up with fellow feminist voices in Cologne to establish a counteraction to the strong machismo of the day, and emerged on the global stage with artists such as Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger and Cindy Sherman. Today she continues to engage with the intricate social and political web that is the art system, questioning its codes and unpicking gender stereotypes.
Talbot Rice is showcasing a large-scale exhibition of her works entitled Drawings, Collages and Book Drafts. As one of only three venues for this touring show, the gallery’s curator Pat Fisher explains that some years ago they worked with Kunstmuseum Bonn on a very successful project of German abstract painter, Blinky Palermo, and since then have kept in touch by sharing ideas of common interest. Fisher says: ‘I was delighted a few years ago to be asked by the director to be the only British venue for the three-venue Trockel show.’
While contemporary art practice has put ‘preparatory’ drawing on equal footing to the old conventions of fully resolved oil paintings – predominantly directed by male artists – Trockel’s practice employs methods of unresolved uncertainty to deliberately undermine authoritative systems. In recent years collage has become an enabling tool for her to combine aspects of her multifaceted practice, which includes photography, film, sculpture and installation. Her book drafts declare works-in-progress, rather than finished objects, serving as placeholders for future ideas.
‘Trockel is an important artist on a number of fronts,’ says Fisher of her own attraction to the artist’s work. ‘She has an important feminist voice that is realised in her art with great psychological vision and unnerving imagery. While she is known for her knitted sculpture – where she played with materiality and female hobby – to my mind it is in her drawings that the story is really told.’
Trockel does not work at a distance. She has been a key presence in selecting the works and categories that characterise her oeuvre, as well as making new works especially for this exhibition. Fisher explains that the project is taking place in academic collaboration with both the History of Art department at Edinburgh University as well as the National Galleries of Scotland and their August Sander show which opens next month, and points out: ‘Where Sander charted the German nation, Trockel explores a collective mind and imagery that is unsure and uneasy.’
Talking about the works on show, Fisher says: ‘There are so many amazing pieces – there are her “vibration” drawings with multiple lines creating an odd visual double-take. For me perhaps one of the most memorable is a particularly arresting drawing of a baby with skeleton hands. The soft, plump form of the baby ending in pointed bones is visually arresting and upsetting.’
This collection of works are almost like the CAT scans of private thoughts, snap shots of that moment in which a thought or idea is conceived, executed by means of an ever searching series of investigative mark making.
Rosemarie Trockel, Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 29 Jan–Sat 30 Apr.