The universe of Rosemarie Trockel is extraordinarily rich and changeable, like that of a woman who is incredibly aware of herself and
the reality that surrounds her. Her work is expressed in a language that is multiform: from painting to drawing, to knitted works, sculptures, photographs, objects, videos. Her aesthetic stems from the female universe to embrace the world, it extends from elements that are intimate and makes them societal, it uses images belonging to collective history and makes them individual, in order to relate them to socio-political reality. Her great ability lies in using images, unconsciously stored in our minds, to make them resurface as fragments of memory, in the everyday. An artist whose work always manages to surprise me, in its originality and elegance, and at the same time with a sort of reserve, an apparent detachment that she impresses on her language, even if she is always "inside" the work. Her art at times disorientates in the multiple forms of expression and meaning that run through it, and also for the "values" that we rediscover in her complex aesthetic.
Made in Western Germany is certainly one of the most significant and representative works in Trockel's oeuvre, in the 1980s. A work that was much sought-after by me, as well as intensely desired. The knitted wool produced industrially for her, with this commercial logo, which the artist offers in the same way as an abstract painting. What could better represent the traditional female universe, if not knitting? But the logo adopted contains a little poetic licence: "Western" instead of "West". This is because, through its representation, the work opens the mind to a different panorama, outside the confines of the usual language. Because women's reality must be enriched by new horizons, real but also imaginary, because the biography of each of us might through Rosemarie's work become a journey. It is difficult to write about this artist who has entered inside me, and I don't know why. It is easier to describe the emotion at the arrival at home of her long awaited work. I remember the late spring day and the German carriers who, in incomprehensible English, shouted at me on the phone that they couldn't reach our house. We live at the top of a small hill: narrow and winding roads, made up for by a beautiful view. Even though I did not exactly understand the problem, I hurried down to the bottom of the hill in the car: the van was enormous (it looked like an articulated lorry!). What was to be done? They were unperturbed: they simply asked how much further there was to go. About a kilometre. They took the work out of the crate, and left itprotected only by a large sheet of plastic, that allowed me to "see" it: it was very beautiful, exactly as I had imagined it (chosen from a photo). At the speed of road runners, they carried it up on foot, two young Germans who, on this occasion, seemed to carry her in triumph. She came up the winding road, with the elegance of a queen borne on the shoulders, while I followed in the car afraid that some other vehicle might run into her. The sun lit her, making her part of the surrounding nature, emphasising the contrasting colours of the logo: she looked like the kite I had never owned as a child, but which I had always desired. The people we came across watched, intrigued: they didn't know that for me it was a special celebration.
No other work has ever arrived in this way, and make me feel so close to heaven.
Infused with subtle wit, Rosemarie Trockel’s elegantly minimal Made in Western Germany was created in part as a response to the German art critic, Wolfgang M. Faust’s provocative declaration derogatively linking “woman and weaving,” and subsequently highlighting the feminine inability to produce a caliber of art that is no more mere than craft. Embarking on a series of Strickbilder or “knitting pictures” in the early 1980s, Trockel’s art responds to her own perception of the male-dominated art world by calling into question the assumed hierarchy of artistic mediums. Through her use of traditionally feminine resources and techniques, Trockel sizes her knitted wool across a canvas stretcher, mimicking the traditional manner in which the coveted oil painting is displayed. More so, by composing her own “painting” on a computer controlled machine, Trockel further highlights the tension between the feminine connotations of craft and the notion of masculine industrial production.
Employing a composition of simple repetition, derived both from the Minimalist and Pop art aesthetic, Trockel is known for repeating a single motif endlessly across the empty expanse of her knitted field. Alluding not only to her own German background, but also the commodification of artists and art in a capitalist society, Trockel poetically twists her chosen phrase “Made in West Germany” into “Made in Western Germany.” Lyrically altering “west” into “western,” the artist engages with her viewers subconscious— evoking motion-picture ideas of the untamed wild, and the landscape without limits—resulting in a metaphorical dialogue between social and commercial references and poetic abstraction. As Whitney curator, Elisabeth Sussman has eloquently stated, “Trockel’s knit works are parodies, a gentle form of aggression for turning the Constructivist notion of art into life and life into art, into a Warholian debunking of contemporary art practice” (E. Sussman, “The Body’s Inventory,” Rosemarie Trockel, exh. cat., Berkeley, 1991, p. 33).