Playing with clichés and subtly criticizing them, using various media to do so, creating a loud artistic voice: Rosemarie Trockel has established herself as one of the most important visual artists questioning the male gaze within art history. By following a multifaceted approach towards her artistic oeuvre, Trockel has found a way to create a characteristic language while continuously surprising the viewer. Whether paintings, drawings, sculpture and objects, video works and installations, the artist combines a mixture of techniques and elements in her works, with always one goal in mind: exercising social criticism through art.  

In her oeuvre, Trockel started focusing on knitted pictures from the mid-1980s onwards, which have become her trademark works. The special style using the woolen material ironically and slyly disputed the cliché of art created by women’s hands with seemingly inferior materials. Through the knitted pictures and stovetop works, the conceptual artist's entire oeuvre has often been read as a critical commentary on traditional role models of women in society and art, as well as an attempt to deconstruct them. Rosemarie Trockel’s works go beyond the feminist gesture and analyze anthropological and sociological theories.  

Especially when Trockel involves animals in her artistic practice and explores their relationship to humans, she questions the relevance and topicality of those theories. When the artist attended doucmenta X in 1997, she exhibited an installation revolving around pigs and people. Together with Carsten Höller, Rosemarie Trockel created the House for Pigs and People. The contribution to documenta X caused international sensation: One half of the two-part concrete building in Kassel's Karlsaue was reserved for a small herd of domestic pigs; the other half was opened to documenta X visitors. The separating glass pane between the two parts of the house was mirrored on one side: The people could thus look at the pigs, which were kept almost luxuriously, with an installed shower, but the animals could not look at the people.  

The installation followed Trockel’s focus on the ambivalent relationship between humans and animals, which play a special role in her early works. In addition to numerous animal films made since the late 1970s, she developed further "shelters" for animals or cast various animal species in bronze for her Habitual Animals. "Every animal is an artist" is a provocative allusion by Rosemarie Trockel to the famous dictum "Every man is an artist" by Joseph Beuys. 

Rosemarie Trockel's work "Wool (multicolored, white)" is part of “100 days, 100 works – documenta artists (re-) discovered”-collection on misa.art, which releases one artwork by documenta-exhibited artists during this year's documenta fifteen. 

Oliver Berg/ dpa
Rosemarie Trockel, Bildrecht Wien 2015 und Kunsthaus Bregenz, Foto: Markus Tretter
Uwe Zucchi