A very personal history at Serpentine Gallery.
The unconventional retrospective of Rosemarie Trockel features artists ranging across centuries and disciplines. Trockel is not the first artist to include others in her ‘solo’ show. Jeff Wall placed his photographs next to paintings in Brussels and Grayson Perry used the British Museum’s collection. Yet this exhibition is distinctly Trockel:
‘a cosmic manifesto for the artist unbound by traditional art-historical hierarchies.’
This museum style cabinet of curiosities features some brilliant, yet largely unknown figures. Trockel’s preoccupation with all facets of creativity and an interest in natural history is evident in the curation.
The result is a show featuring 18th century zoological illustrations, Manuel Montavlo’s handmade books, Trockel’s monochrome knitted paintings and a silent film from the early 20th century featuring an insect love affair. Two of the most impressive artists featured, James Castle and Judith Scott, were, according to the Serpentine’s sources unable to read, speak or talk.
Trockel’s work manages to escape classification, maintaining an aesthetic that is unidentifiable. Walking through the Serpentine it’s difficult to know which works belong to Trockel’s and which belong to everyone else. But the real beauty is found in the detailed taxonomy and the connections of unrelated items.
Rosemarie Trockel, Lucky Devil, 2012 © Rosemarie Trockel, Courtesy Sprüth Magers Berlin London
Aurelia aurita, circa 1876, © The Natural History Museum, London 2012
Judith Scott, Untitled, 2005, Photo credit: Sylvain Deleu, © The Museum of Everything
James Castle (1899-1977), Untitled, © James Castle Collection and Archive 2013
Morton Bartlett, Untitled (Ballerina), 1950/60, Courtesy The Museum of Everything, London
Rosemarie Trockel, Was ein Ding ist, und was es nicht ist, sind, in der Form, identisch gleich (Detail), 2012, © Rosemarie Trockel, Courtesy Sprüth Magers Berlin London
Rosemarie Trockel, Replace Me, 2011, © Rosemarie Trockel, Courtesy Sprüth Magers Berlin London
Maria Sibylla Merian, Citron with a Moth and a Harlequin Beetle c. 1701-2, Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2012