Rosemarie Trockel is a German artist known mostly for her sculptures and installations that question “women’s work,” sexuality, and culture. Her art makes reference in particular to the human body and to domestic activities–she has produced a series of “paintings” made of knitting, and has created sculptures from materials that include glass, hair, plaster, wood, and found objects. She studied anthropology, sociology, theology, and mathematics with the intention of becoming a teacher and only later trained as a painter.
This piece consists of a store-bought shirt to which Trockel added an embroidered “ink spot” and a tag reading “Justine/Juliette Collection Désir.” The text on the tag carries a double meaning–on one hand it plays with our notions of fashion and brand names, and on the other it alludes to a story about moral chastity. Justine (1791) and Juliette (1797) are the titles of two books by the notorious Marquis de Sade. They recount the fictional tales of two sisters, one seen struggling to maintain her virtue while confessing to being subject to a number of violently sexual acts, and the other exemplified as a content, if corrupt, prostitute. When asked about the ink spot, Trockel responded that it represents “original sin.”