From Rosemarie Trockel’s ‘A Cosmos’: Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka’s Glass Jellyfish
Rosemarie Trockel invites us into an almost paradoxical cosmos, for the universe this German artist has created does not appear at first sight to be ordered but instead a historical, mirrored storage space in which the reflections of artistic influence (artist on artist, politics on art, nature on art e.t.c.) can be seen. The graceful jellyfish models by Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka form a small yet striking part of this collection expounding on Trockel’s desire to ‘create a space for ideas to exist between different disciplines’.
The Blaschka’s blown-glass jellyfish models are some of the many biological specimens they made for the Natural History Museum of Boston in the late 19th century. The craftsmanship and expertise with which these models were made perfectly compliment the etherealness and fragility of a jellyfish; the apparent complexity of their wispy translucent tentacles appear to contradict their now known evolutionary ‘simplicity’. Trockel displays these specimens in a dark glass case, akin to the deep seas in which the living forms of them reside, thus, these stationary models appear to bob and glide as their prototypes would.
Trockel’s attempt to combine all her artistic inspiration in one space, unperturbed by contemporary expectations for a perfectly ‘coherent’ exhibition is a success. Science plays a huge role in this collection, with a photo of a skinhead with botanical tattoos, the aforementioned German jellyfish models and elaborate floral drawings by Trockel herself. In the room in which all these pieces are placed, Trockel manages to convince the viewer that artistic inspiration needn’t always come from complex human abstractions or social constructions but can instead ensue from the undirected vastness of the natural world.
‘A Cosmos’ is currently on at The Serpentine in London: http://www.serpentinegallery.org/2011/03/rosemarie_trockel_a_cosmos.html