– Autumn/Winter 2003

To Think Is to Pause

Lilian Haberer

Rosemary Trockel, Living Means Not Good Enough, mixed media, approx. 195cm x 118.5cm x 20cm, 2002. © Rosemarie Trockel/DACS London 2011. Courtesy Sprueth Magers Berlin London.

Rosemary Trockel, Living Means Not Good Enough, mixed media, approx. 195cm x 118.5cm x 20cm, 2002. © Rosemarie Trockel/DACS London 2011. Courtesy Sprueth Magers Berlin London.

Thoughts determine kinds of lives we lead. They locate the choices we make within the unlimited field of our so-called "way of life". In these terms, thoughts do not describe the individual function of an organ or a mental ability but rather address an experience, an experimentum, the object of which is the possible conditions of life and human intelligence.1

In the myth of Orpheus,2 his glance back into the kingdom of shadows became the decisive moment when he once again lost his dead Eurydice. At that moment, she banished Orpheus's ability to remember or experience things that were not physically present before him. By looking back, he tried to reassure himself of her presence but only became aware of his loss and ensured that Eurydice, in her journey back from death to life, could only ever be remembered as image. A metaphoric reading of Orpheus and Eurydice shows us that the production of such mental images, or imagination, is intimately connected to memory as it falls back on all its experiences, knowledge, awareness, fantasies and associations to form a basis for thinking. It is this imagination that creates a kind of rhizomatic structure from the multitude of individual images we receive, in turn determining the complex network we use to understand the world.

Rosemary Trockel's relatively unknown series of book-cover designs could be said to function in a similar way. They have been produced alongside her other work since the 1980s. The designs not only refer to the wealth of possible ways of formally visualising a book, but also refer to literary and philosophical ideas as well as motifs in Trockel's own

  1. Giorgio Agamben, Mezzi senza fine. Note sulla politica, Turin: Bollati Boringhieri, 1996

  2. Undine Gruenter, Sommergäste in Trouville. Erzählungen, Munich and Vienna:Hanser, 2003, pp.53-56

  3. Marguerite Duras and Xaviere Gauthier, Gespräche, Stroemfeld: Roter Stern, 1974, p.69

  4. Erich Rösch (ed.), Ovid Matamorphosen (bilingual edition), Munich: Artemis & Winkler, 1992, p.361

  5. Hannah Arendt, Vom Leben des Geistes, Munich: Piper, 1979, p.114

  6. The female hand with a cigarette holder by the train window from the series Der Falsche Freund (The False Friend) is a motif from a scanner-print Trockel produced in 2002 ; the male figure on the design Ich und meine Freiheit (Me and my Freedom) is a sequence from the video work Yvonne, 1997; the title Lessons learned from the Real shows a scanner-print from 1993; the title Keiner soll sagen können, er hätte nichts gewusst (Nobody should be able to say that he didn't know anything) has been added to a video-still taken from the work Ich kann (a), darf (b) und will (c) nicht (I can't (a), am not allowed to (b) and don't want to (c)), 1993

  7. Immanuel Kant, Anthropologie in pragmatischer Hinsicht, Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 2000, p.61

  8. H. Arendt, op. cit., pp.61 and 84

  9. Donald W. Winnicott, 'The Ordinary Devoted Mother', lecture held on 6 February 1966 for the Nursery School Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, London Branch in Donald W. Winnicott, Das Baby und seine Mutter, Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1990; Donald W Winnicott, Playing and Reality, London: Travistock, 1971

  10. Marguerite Duras, Zerstören, sagt sie, Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1970

  11. Else Lasker-Schüler, 'Ich räume auf', in Friedhelm Kemp (ed.), Collected Works, Munich: Kösel, 1962, p.525