Rosemarie Trockel

6 Feb 1993 - 30 May 1993
work in collection

The work of Rosemarie Trockel (1952, Schwerte FRG) is not unfamiliar or without influence in the Netherlands, although it has only been shown to a moderate degree in several group exhibitions, among them “Sonsbeek 86”.

When she first emerged in the early eighties, Trockel was perceived as a true feminist who was primarily interested in the position of women in society and in art. Over the years it has become clear that her work is more complex and versatile than was initially presumed. Her works lack the unambiguousness that is often peculiar to ideological standpoints. The historical exclusion of women is not so much a topic as it is a point of departure for Trockel. In this she makes use of skills and techniques that have traditionally been part of the woman’s domain. Her paintings in knitted wool are a prime example of this. The works are made with the aid of a knitting machine, thereby negating the typically feminine aspect of manual work.

In these works she often refers to cliche images about women, such as the Playboy Bunny, but she also uses motifs that are more general, making it evident that she is especially interested in the potential for ambiguous interpretation. The exhibition at De Pont focuses on works in which Rorschach images are central. The Rorschach test, developed in the early part of this century by the Swiss psychologist of the same name, was used to motivate patients to divulge hidden personality traits without their awareness of this. In art, this technique of producing a random image - by way of folding a sheet of paper with an inkblot - has already been applied various times by artists such as Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol. Rosemarie Trockel, however, is the first artist to bring up the dubious aspects of the Rorschach test and undermine its worth. The constellations of forms, digitalized by means of a computer, are stripped of any randomness through the mechanical process of knitting, thus neutralizing the expressiveness of the shapes. In studies for these paintings, the test is brought down a notch further. The expressionistically painted composition contains only one half of the double Rorschach image. Here randomness has been obliterated as a point of departure: the artist has completely reversed the function of the image.