Rosemarie Trockel


5 July 1999 – summer 2000
work in collection

The German entry for the 1999 Venice Biennale consisted of a contribution by Rosemarie Trockel (1952). She had made a trio of films, specifically for the Biennale, and all three were screened in the German Pavilion. One of these films, entitled Kinderspielplatz, showed children playing in a fantasy environment with a number of small cars, like the ones used at amusements parks and playgrounds. The film was projected as a Brueghelian scene. The actual cars of Kinderspielplatz can be admired in De Pont. The cars are a recent acquisition of De Pont and will be uniquely presented: not only showcased as museum objects but, at the special request of the artist, also as a particular project for children. They will be permitted to drive around in some of these cars in the garden of De Pont.

For a number of years now De Pont has been following the work of Rosemarie Trockel with great interest. In 1993 herRorschach-Bilder were exhibited here, which were part of the knitted paintings (Strick-Bilder) series that brought her international attention. The knitted paintings revealed some striking aspects of Trockel’s work: the use of unexpected materials and the undermining of ‘typically’ male and female classifications. In Cogito, ergo sum(1988), which is part of the collection of De Pont, the artist comments on the rationalism of Descartes while using a traditionally female technique (in blatantly clumsy way), yet at the same time she paraphrases in wool Malevich’s art-historical icon Black Square and Polke’s famous painted statement Höhere Wesen befahlen: rechte obere Ecke schwarz mahlen! (1969).

But Trockel’s work is not an art of statements and militant stances. It is subtle and full of humor. Ingeniously she gives her comments on, and plays with, traditional values and expectations. Likewise, Kinderspielplatz, bears witness to Trockel’s gift of representing patterns of social interaction with a keen eye. At the same time the work is also suffused with light-hearted fun. The installation at the Venice Biennale consists of three films projected in three different rooms. These three projections represent the past, the present, and the future. A large watchful eye stares at us in the present, the future is still hidden in the dreams of sleep, and the past presents the memories of children’s games and fantasy worlds. These are represented in a cheerful way by eight wondrously designed and decorated children’s cars. Such as the wool-car as a wooly Volkswagen Beetle and the scrap metal-car which is rusty and dented. The brush-car is made of brushes and brooms. In addition, there is a camper, a futuristic aluminum-car, a rubber-car in the shape of a little boat, a graffiti-car and a snow-car.  

Each car has its own character, and in a series of drawings Rosemarie Trockel also indicates that a certain type of driver goes with each car. She sees the Alu-Auto being driven by a child wearing a `silver astronaut outfit’ and the `brush-car’ by a child with a crew cut.

The jolly imagination exuding from these cars might evoke childhood memories in adults. To children they first and foremost look like inviting toys. With KinderspielplatzTrockel has made a work in which she explores attitudes of observation and participation by letting an `adult’ work entice one to `childlike’ perceptions, while at the same time presenting the playing child as an alter ego of the adult `homo ludens’. Kinderspielplatz is an artwork that invites the viewer to experience it by driving around in it, by setting it into motion. Not only by the children behind the wheel but also by adult viewers. This `interactiveness’ of the work is characteristic of the concerns and the attitude of many contemporary artists who choose to create – and situate, as the case may be – their work not only starting from but also within the environment of everyday life. The immediate environment of our social world and the social intercourse of all our daily doings can in this way become the context, and even the content, of art. In this respect Trockel reveals an indebtedness to Joseph Beuys. His `social sculptures’ were a constant invitation to spectators to participate in the artwork, and in so doing he tried to reverse the positions of the artist and the viewer. His apothegm: `Everyone is an artist’ is seconded by Trockel’s children at play.