The work of Rosemarie Trockel (Germany, 1952) is a reversal of contemporary art's exhibition techniques. Although presented in series, her objects paradoxically break with cold minimalist or pop production and instead bear the imprint of the artisan techniques with which they are manufactured, tapping into the historic imagery of women's work in a post-industrial world.
This synthesis of elements in confrontation, the serial as opposed to the subjective, the artesanal as opposed to the industrial, hovers over the exhibition Rosemarie Trockel: a cosmos (from May 23 to September 24, 2012). In it the artist makes her particular version of the cabinet of curiosities the paradigm of a retrospective in which curiosities and the familiarly strange serve as the connecting element.
When Lewis Carroll invented the wonderland that Alice found at the bottom of the rabbit hole, he was proposing a world in which even the most familiar objects no longer made sense. Anne M. Wagner suggests that the same occurs in the cosmos of the artist Rosemarie Trockel or, at least, the sense that her work gives to such objects is oblique and uncanny, in allusion to the Freudian definition of uncanny as that disquieting sense of the strange appearing within the familiar. This lecture, based on the study of various recent works, is a guide to Trockel's very own wonderland.
Anne M. Wagner is professor emerita at the Department of Art History of the University of California, Berkeley. Her publications include Three Artists (Three Women): Modernism and the Art of Hesse, Krasner, and O’Keefe (1998), Mother Stone: The Vitality of Modern British Sculpture (2005) and, most recently, A House Divided: On Recent American Art (2012).