Verflüssigung is a word Rosemarie Trockel has sometimes used to name an effect or complex of effects that make themselves felt in her works in various media, effects that extend beyond the various phenomena of ‘liquefaction’ which that word in its technical sense describes. A 2003 double-projection black and white video of that title produced for her Children’s Room exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt, for example, features the magic-show dematerialisation into a puff of smoke of a woman in her role as mother.
This untitled drawing seems also to be organised around the disappearances of a body—one that might be seen in this case to have left behind as a kind of afterimage the graphic colouration of Trockel’s delicate pencil marks, which describe the shape of a black wedge boot perhaps decorated with butterfly-like fasteners and red ornamental details at its toe, a skirt of mottled warm hues, and at upper left, the cut-off bottom edge of an elbow-like shape in a hatched pattern of red and black marks similar to those that define the most densely rendered part of the leg-like shape that links boot to skirt.
But there is no body in these clothes, the stuff of which seems moreover suffused with the blue with which Trockel has covered the entire sheet in delicate vertical hatching, as if the ‘air’ of some weirdly enchanted atmosphere had replaced the flesh of a once-human figure and left its garments partly transparent, or, in the case of the area where we would expect to see the figure’s left leg, missing entirely. The drawing puts me in mind of the way the arrival, by means of a meteor, of a mysterious otherworldly spectrum of indescribable, radically anti-anthropomorphic colour makes human bodies disintegrate in HP Lovecraft’s 1927 short story, ‘The Colour Out of Space’, a text by a writer prized by a writer, Michel Houellebecq, of whom Trockel in turn is a fan.
Brigid Doherty teaches at Princeton University and is currently writing a book about the work of Rosemarie Trockel. Rosemarie Trockel: Drawings, Collages and Book Drafts, Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, 29 January–30 Apr