Talbot Rice Gallery

Talbot Rice Gallery’s current exhibition on the particularly significant place of German artist Rosemarie Trockel in contemporary art eschews her multi-faceted work in film, sculpture and painting and begins with a meticulous survey on her considerable use of drawing, collage and sketch “book drafts”. This astute tactic unveils the artist’s prolific and relentless proposals, test-runs and ‘blue-prints’ on her dissension of male-dominated cultural production and the systems, including the role of curator, museum and gallery, that determine authority and administrate concepts of reality and representation. It provides a unique opportunity to observe Trockel’s insistent and unstinting strategy of installing feminine connotations and counter positions within male-dominated political and artistic frameworks.

“I Love Hardcore!” states one of her notebooks forming a conduct within the exhibition as a whole of an artist embroiled in a radical intervention, observation and documentation of Western culture and its passing fashions and obsessions: a drawing filled with trash is signposted with the word “Vogue”, an Andy Warhol Mao screen-print is redrawn in drag, and John F. Kennedy forms the backdrop to a collage referencing the work of Sylvia Plath, a drawing of a cowboy in all its masculine posturing, is feminized and renamed “Irony”. Numerous drawings, collages and notebooks in the show offer up alternative conditions that present the grotesque, the theatrical and chimerical advocating her interest in a combination of male and female identities – the anima and animus, of the female within the male and vice versa – and a bringing to the surface of the unconscious mind, and instinctive, animal-like states.

Drawings, Collages and Book Drafts conspires to declare an emphatically different perspective on recent and current histories; it accrues to invoke the role of the artist to undermine, through persistence and consistent endeavour, the established and establishment, and liberate the subjugated and wilfully misrepresented.

(This review was originally published at The Skinny, Glasgow and Edinburgh, UK, February 2011)