– Spring 2014

Less Sauvages than Others: Rosemarie Trockel’s ‘A Cosmos’

Brigid Doherty

Installation view, ‘Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos’, New Museum, New York, 2012—13. Pictured left to right: Rosemarie Trockel, Replace Me, 2011, digital print, 32.5 × 40cm and Untitled, 2012, plastic, 350 × 100cm. Photograph: Benoit Pailley. All images © 2014 Rosemarie Trockel, DACS, London. Courtesy the artist; New Museum, New York; and Sprüth Magers, Berlin and London

‘Models’, said Rosemarie Trockel in an interview with Lynne Cooke some years ago, ‘are a matter of one’s own work. There is no model for how to deal with a model.’1 This paradox — that an artist’s own labours and creations determine not only how models are to be reckoned with but also what might constitute a model for those labours and creations in the first place — was made vivid in ‘Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos’ (2012—13), a superb exhibition curated by Cooke for the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid that travelled to the New Museum in New York and the Serpentine Gallery in London.2
 In displaying drawings, paintings and sculptures made by others as integral to the cosmos associated with Trockel’s own art, the exhibition took seriously Trockel’s understanding of works of art as having the capacity not merely to establish relationships of similarity and difference to models, but in effect to generate those models — in other words, to invert the operations of

  1. Rosemarie Trockel, quoted in Lynne Cooke, ‘In Medias Res’, in Rosemarie Trockel (exh. cat.), Munich and Ostfildern: Sammlung Goetz and Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2002, p.23. See the discussion of Trockel’s ‘insistence on the complexity of models’, and especially the interpretation of Sprachwandel B (2006), in Anne M. Wagner, ‘Trockel’s Wonderland’, in Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos (exh. cat.), Madrid and New York: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and Monacelli Press, 2012, pp.23—25.

  2. ‘Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos’, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (23 May—24 September 2012); New Museum, New York (24 October 2012—13 January 2013); and Serpentine Gallery, London (13 February—7 April 2013).

  3. See L. Cooke, ‘Modelling a Cosmos’, in Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos, op. cit., p.43.

  4. See ‘influence, n.’, OED Online, available at www.oed.com/view/Entry/95519?rskey=rbTAkN&result=1&isAdvanced=false (last accessed on 4 December 2013).

  5. See ‘The Bayer Cross’, available at http://www.bayer.com/en/the-bayer-cross.aspx (last accessed on 4 December 2013).

  6. Alexander von Humboldt, ‘Author’s Preface’ (1844), Cosmos: A Sketch of a Physical Description of the Universe (trans. E.C. Otté), London: Bohn, 1848, vol.1, pp.ix—xiv.

  7. It’s worth noting that Humboldt’s Cosmos plays a significant role in the art of Hanne Darboven,
whose work has been important to both Trockel and Cooke. Cooke curated the magisterial exhibition
of Darboven’s Kulturgeschichte 1880—1983 (Cultural History 1880—1983, 1980—83) at the Dia Center for the Arts in New York in 1996—1997, and then oversaw its installation as part of Dia’s permanent collection at the new Dia: Beacon in 2004; unfortunately that epochal work is no longer on display.
For Darboven’s engagement with Humboldt, see, for example, her Urzeit/Uhrzeit (New York: Rizzoli, 1990), which reproduces, in an English translation by Joachim Neugroschel, the 1844 preface to Cosmos.

  8. See Dore Ashton, ‘Free Associating RT’, in Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos, op. cit., pp.28—29.

  9. See Brigid Doherty, ‘She Is Dead: The Disfiguration of Origins in Rosemarie Trockel’s Collages’,
in Dirk Snauwaert (ed.), Rosemarie Trockel: Flagrant Delight (exh. cat.), Brussels and Paris: WIELS and BlackJack Editions, 2013, pp.134—48.

  10. See Walter Benjamin, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ (1936), Illuminations: Essays and Reflections (ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn), New York: Harcourt, 1968, pp.217—52.

  11. See W. Benjamin, On Hashish (1927—34, trans. Howard Eiland), Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006.

  12. Friedrich Kittler, Draculas Vermächtnis. Technische Schriften, Leipzig: Reclam, 1993, p.182.

  13. L’Abécédaire de Gilles Deleuze (1988—89), interviews with Claire Parnet, directed by Pierre-André 
Boutang; available in English as Gilles Deleuze from A to Z (trans. Charles V. Stivale), Cambridge MA, 
and London: The MIT Press, 2011.

  14. Tilda was born in Borneo in 1967 and spent her youth as a cabaret performer in Antwerp before moving 
to the Cologne Zoo, where she and other great apes have had occasion to make paintings that have been sold to support various initiatives at the zoo. See ‘Lotte und Tilda malen’, http://www.koelnerzoo.de/ zoo-aktuell/neuigkeiten/lotti-und-tilda-malen/ (last accessed on 4 December 2013).

  15. Franz Kafka, ‘A Report to an Academy’, in Kafka’s Selected Stories (ed. and trans. Stanley Corngold), New York: Norton, 2007, pp.76—84.

  16. Rosemarie Trockel, Footnotes, booklet included in the artist’s book Jedes Tier ist eine Künstlerin
(ed. Wilfried Dickhoff ), Lund: AB Propexus, 1993, unpaginated. See also Marcel Duchamp, ‘Inframince/ Infrathin’ (note 24), Notes (ed. and trans. Paul Matisse, preface Anne d’Harnoncourt), Boston: G.K. Hall, 1983, unpaginated.

  17. ‘Rosemarie Trockel: Flagrant Delight’ was curated by Dirk Snauwaert at WIELS, Brussels (18 Feburary —27 May 2012), and travelled to Culturgest, Lisbon (13 October 2012—6 January 2013) and Museion Bolzano (1 February—1 May 2013).

  18. See also Wagner’s discussion of Trockel’s use of this title to ‘evoke the world of sculpture’ and to imply ‘an aesthetic comparison’ in which Trockel’s art exemplifies ‘a less-than-savage sculptural comportment [in which] sculptural excess can be tamed’, in ‘Trockel’s Wonderland’, in Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos,
op. cit., pp.25—26.

  19. F. Kafka, ‘A Report to an Academy’, op. cit., p.84.