© 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]

(Fragile) Killer, 2016, mixed media, 29 x 19 x 16 cm (presented in airtight vitrine)

Stellmach’s Worry Dolls are ‘nightmare-catchers’ of a special kind. She is a storyteller, intertwining the real with fiction to create playful and poetic installations that are indeed also rather grotesque and monstrous. Ingeborg Ruthe, Berliner Zeitung (transl.)

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, Natascha Stellmach’s dolls display sexual attributes and political symbols which are juxtaposed on their supposed innocence. Curator David G. Torres


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

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

Natascha Stellmach, Installation view, "I Don't Believe in Reality", photographs, artist book, mixed media, dimensions variable, at Wagner+Partner Berlin, 2012, photo © Uwe Walter

Installation view, “I Don’t Believe in Reality”, Worry Doll photographs, Fly artist book, mixed media, dimensions variable, at Wagner+Partner Berlin, 2012, photo © Uwe Walter

It is this wit and wry humour, together with a sense of the poetic, which has enabled Stellmach to so successfully tackle challenging topics; and to do so in a way that is never clichéd or laboured. Her work clearly sits within a strong European, and particularly Germanic, artistic tradition of melancholy. However, it is also very Australian in its brooding darkness and the unspoken. Amy Barrett-Lennard, Director PICA, Australia

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

Killer, 2010, fine art print on photo rag, 60 x 44cm

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

The Bullsheet Artist, 2012, fine art print on photo rag, 60 x 44cm



Stellmach’s series is informed by the traditional ‘worry doll’ – a term originating in Guatemala for the tiny dolls made to ease the fears of children in the night. According to folklore, the doll is thought to worry in the child’s place and so take away their ‘night fears’.

Stellmach transforms this 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 totems for an adult to ‘surrender their fears to’. Often informed by the taunts she heard as a child, these dystopic ‘adult-only’ dollies embody traits such as narcissism, failure, violence, prejudice and fundamentalism.

Each doll is also imaged and exhibited as a photographic work. Stellmach scans the dolls, rather than photographing them, and each scan constitutes a photo-visual ‘sensation’ of the fears she is scrutinising.

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


F*ckhead, 2010, fine art print on photo rag, 60 x 44cm

The Worry Dolls as objects are often presented as part of an installation, i.e. one of the dolls, F*ckhead, 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.

Nazi Girl, 2007, fine art print on photo rag, 60 x 44cm

Stellmach seeks out contemporary realisations for timeless themes – for tragedies, fears and anxieties. Writer & Critic Astrid Mania


Heili, 2006, fine art print on photo rag, 60 x 44cm

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
Amy Barrett-Lennard | It is Black in Here Foreword (English) & Vorwort (Deutsch)
Barbara Auer | Mythos Kindheit: Natascha Stellmach, Kerber Verlag (Deutsch)
von hundert | Nazi Girl im Kinderzimmer – Review by Julia G. Schneider (Deutsch)
Astrid Mania | Mise en Abyme, Natascha Stellmachs poetische Brechungen (Deutsch) & English