WORRY DOLLS

© Natascha Stellmach Killer Worry Doll (True Self), mixed media, 2016 [Note: This doll is currently in detention & unable to be present for the MACBA exhibition]

Killer (True Self), 2016, mixed media, 29 x 19 x 16 cm

These “Worry Dolls” are ‘nightmare-catchers’ of a special kind … Stellmach is a storyteller: she intertwines the real with fiction to create installations that are playful and poetic and indeed also rather grotesque and monstrous. Ingeborg Ruthe, Berliner Zeitung, 2010

The work Worry Dolls of artist Natascha Stellmach is seen at the exhibition PUNK at the Barcelona Mu

Stellmach’s Worry Dolls, installation view, MACBA Barcelona Opening, 2016 ©imago/AgenciaEFE.jpg

As in the graphic designs of Jamie Reid or the collages by COUM Transmissions, the dolls of Natascha Stellmach display sexual attributes and political symbols which are juxtaposed on their supposed innocence. Curator David G. Torres

NataschaStellmach-InstallView-Punk_Artium_Vitoria_Spain-2015-Install2

Installation View: Punk. It’s Traces in Contemporary Art, C2AM Vitoria, The Worry Doll photographs, each 60 x 44 cm, 2015

Killer (from the series Worry Dolls), archival ink on photo rag, 60 x 44cm, 2010

Killer, 2010, archival ink on photo rag, 60 x 44cm

The Bullshit Artist, 2012, archival ink on photo rag, 60 x 44cm

The Bullsheet Artist, 2012, archival ink on photo rag, 60 x 44cm

STELLMACH-NaziGirlWorrydoll2007

Nazi Girl, 2007, archival ink on photo rag, 60 x 44cm

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Installation view, Worry Dolls 2007-12 at Wagner+Partner Berlin, 2012

Evil Barbies: fur monsters, suicidal vibrators, Nazi’s. In Natascha Stellmach’s world, children’s nightmares grow up.
Falk Schreiber, uMag, 2010

STELLMACH-FuckheadWorrydoll2010

Fuckhead, 2010, archival ink on photo rag, 60 x 44cm

Stellmach’s ongoing series is informed by the traditional ‘worry doll’ – a term originating in Guatemala for the small dolls made to ease the worries of children in the night. According to folklore, the doll is thought to worry in the child’s place, thereby permitting them to sleep peacefully. The child will wake up without worries, which have been taken away by the doll in the night. These dolls are usually tiny – only a few centimetres tall. Instead, Stellmach transforms the idea, often critically warping the two cultures that have informed her identity: Australia and Germany, so that the dolls she makes take on grotesque characteristics and become adult totems to project fears onto. Often informed by the taunts she heard as a child, these creepy ‘adult-only’ dolls embody traits such as narcissism, failure, violence, prejudice and fundamentalism.

Natascha Stellmach, Installation view (detail): The Book of Back, mixed media, video, Fotogalerie Wien, Austria, 2010

Installation view (detail): The Book of Back with Killer Worry Doll, mixed media, video, Fotogalerie Wien, Austria, 2010

The Worry Dolls as objects are often presented as part of an installation, i.e. one of the dolls, Fuckhead, is on ‘high rotation’ – made from a ‘sturdy’ vibrator which causes its incessant spinning. As she spins the visitor is greeted with a saccharine smile and skirt of positive affirmations in various languages – created from fortune cookie papers.

STELLMACH-HeiliWorrydoll2007

Heili, 2006, archival ink on photo rag, 60 x 44cm

Each doll is also imaged and often exhibited as a photographic work. In in attempt to critically scrutinise these fears, Stellmach scans the dolls, rather than photographing them.

SELECTED PRESS / TEXTS
Punk | 380-page publication, 2015, Essays by David G. Torres, Gloria Guso, Eloy Fernández Porta, Dani Castillejo et al.
El País Spanish National Daily | El punk no ha muerto – Review by S.C.F
Berliner Zeitung | Sorgenpuppe am goldenen Strick – Review by Ingeborg Ruthe
FAZ, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung | Verletzung und Verdrängung – Review by Robert Meyer