Rosemarie Trockel at New Museum- An interview

Rosemarie Trockel is one of the most fascinating artists of her generation warranted by her vastly array of subjects while exploring wide range of medium with variously different techniques.  Furthermore, her eclectic world of ideas of which inspired her work manifest her relentless interest in human existence and in history.  If one should like to be able to fully appreciate and immerse into Trockel’s works and ideas, it would mean to be given the chance to behold concurrently her body of work and along with the objects, the works and the documentations of history that she finds inspirational.

Opening on October 24th at the New Museum, Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos is an exhibition unlike any other museum retrospectives. Rather than a straightforward chronology of the artist’s body of work throughout the decades, this exhibition presents a combination of works by Trockel and works by other artists and the objects from different cultures and eras that form an imaginary universe.  All the works in the exhibition were selected and organized by the artist and Curator Lynne Cooke of the Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, the two worked closely together to produce this exhibition.

Rosemarie Trockel, Shutter 1 (a), 2006. Glazed ceramic, 32 3/4 x 24 3/8 x 2 3/4 in (83 x 62 x 7 cm). Courtesy Sprüth Magers, Berlin/London. © Rosemarie Trockel / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2011

Recently, I had the great honor of interviewing Jenny Moore, Associate Curator of the New Museum, about her experience working on this exhibition. Here are her responses to my questions:

C.H.: Rosemarie Trockel is considered a very important artist internationally since the 1970s, and whose multi-faceted works include sculptures, drawings, paintings, videos, installations, etc.  What was the biggest discovery for you while preparing this exhibition?

J.M.: Rosemarie has been an important figure for so many years but I had mostly seen singular works by her in Europe.  I have never had the chance to see a large-scale exhibition of hers so it was incredible to see her range of work and to have the opportunity to bring that to a New York audience. The humor in her work, for me, has been the greatest discovery.

C.H.: Though Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos could be somewhat seen as a retrospective exhibition however, it is presented very differently from a traditional retrospective. In this regard the exhibition presents not only works by the artist but also objects and other works of art by artists of various backgrounds and trainings.  Has this opportunity given you a different kind of work experience?

J.M.: It has been fascinating to discover so many important historical figures like Maria Sibylla Merian and Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka, artists I had no knowledge of before. And it has certainly been a challenge to track down some of the natural history specimens like the larger than life lobster.

Rosemarie Trockel, Prime-Age, 2012. Digital print, 16 1/2 x 16 1/2 in (42 x 42 cm). Courtesy Sprüth Magers, Berlin/London. Private collection. © Rosemarie Trockel / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2012

C.H.: Before the New Museum, this exhibition first opened to the public at the Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofia which was co-curated by Rosemarie Trockel and Chief Curator Lynne Cooke, what was it like working with the artist and the curator?

J.M.: I have known Lynne Cooke since my time in graduate school—in fact she was one of the readers for my thesis—so it’s an honor to work with her on an exhibition that is so close to her. Rosemarie is such an important artist and has such a long history—she has been a true inspiration to me.

C.H.: Since at a very young age, Trockel has been influenced by artist prints / postcards that her mother collected at the home of which she grew up and these postcards are now part of her personal collection.  As I can imagine, she must have accumulated a vastly array of images, objects and perhaps other textual works, how was this selection process different from other curatorial projects that you have worked on? 

J.M.: Those choices were a result of an ongoing, personal dialogue between Rosemaire and Lynne, both of whom were so intrinsically involved in the curatorial process. In a way the show is an imaginary universe in which Trockel's own artwork shares space with objects spanning different eras and cultures that map her artistic interests.

Rosemarie Trockel, Replace me, 2011. Glass, steel, wool, fabric, plastic, and mixed media, 31 1/2 x 165 1/3 x 28 in (80 x 420 x 71 cm). Courtesy Sprüth Magers, Berlin/London. Private collection. © Rosemarie Trockel / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2012

C.H.: Over the years, Trockel has produced works in collaborations with other artists such as Carsten Höller for the ‘House for Pigs and People’, and with philosopher Marcus Steinweg, they collaboratively wrote a book on the works of writer and filmmaker Marguerite Duras.  In light of this idea of collaboration, would you say by choosing to display works by other artists that Trockel is in some way “collaborating” with these artists in this exhibition to showcase what has inspired her during her process as an artist?

J.M.: I see the inclusion of other artists’ work, in addition to her own collaborative works, more like creating a conversation between two people with mutual affinities and interests.

C.H.: Considering the architectural uniqueness of the New Museum building, was there a lot of “space negotiation” when it came to presenting this exhibition that had been housed previously in a very different space structurally?

J.M.: Rosemarie responded very favorably to the New Museum building. There are many distinct elements of its architecture that she likes very much. And because of its uniqueness she chose to approach the installation in a slightly different fashion that she had at the Reina Sofia. Along with Lynne, she made decisions that will create an experience of the space unlike any other we have presented at the museum.
C.H.: This last question somewhat goes back to the first question I posed to you; in the first question I asked you about what was your biggest discovery during the process of putting together this exhibition; now what might be the most valuable and unique discovery or discoveries that you hope the visitors of the New Museum would get out of this exhibition?

J.M.: That contemporary art can be so deeply informed by historical figures and objects and that the creative process can be so rich and varied.

Rosemarie Trockel, Twin 1, 2008. Ceramics glazed, 13 x 13 x 13 in (33 x 33 x 33 cm). Private collection, Berlin. Courtesy Sprüth Magers, Berlin/London. © Rosemarie Trockel / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2012

Rosemarie Trockel was born in 1952 in Schwerte, Germany.  She studied at the Werkkunstschule in Cologne, Germany.  Since 1998, she has been a professor at the Staatiliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.  She lives and works in Cologne.  She has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at venues including: the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Dia Center for the Arts, New York; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and the Kunsthalle Zürich, Switzerland.  In 2004, she received the Wolfgang Hahn Prize, resulting in the one-woman exhibition “Post-Menopause” which premiered at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne before traveling to the Museo Nazionale Delle Arti Del XXI Secolo in Rome.  Rosemarie Trockel represented Germany at the 1999 Venice Biennale and participated in Documenta X in 1997.  She was the recipient of the Goslar Kaiserring award in 2011.


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