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  • Writer's pictureDimitri Ozerkov

Jake and Dinos Chapman. The End of Fun

When:   20.10.2012 - 13.01.2013

Where:  Hermitage, Saint-Petersburg, Russia


On October 20, 2012, the State Hermitage museum hosted the opening of a temporary exhibit entitled Jake and Dinos Chapman. The End of Fun, which was presented in the restored facilities of the first construction stage of the East Wing of the General Staff Building. The Chapman brothers, Jake (born 1966) and Dinos (born 1962) are English artists and participants in the Young British Artists group (YBA). In 2003, they broke out in the competition for the Turner Prize. The exposition includes the following pieces: The End of Fun,Traumatize, in Order to Offend, in order to Traumatize, and the Disasters of War. The central piece, The End of Fun is a three-dimensional collage, consisting of miniature plastic figures placed in nine glass display cases. The display cases are arranged in the hall in such a way that it resembles a swastika from above. In the display cases, a single landscape of hell unfolds, in which the figures ceaselessly kill one another with diabolical cruelty. In the artists’ words, only one moment in this piece is captured, the fact that everything happening behind the glass is taking place at the same time. Like the architects of the old Kunstkamera, the Chapman brothers "lock up" the fascists in a capsule full of sadistic bestiality. By placing cruelty in seal museum display cases or dioramas, the artists strive to cure society of that cruelty. "The Chapman figures bring back the horrors of war, and the sense that wars do not only consist of victories. The time has come to be reminded of that," says M.B.Piotrovskiy, the General Director of the State Hermitage Museum. The pieces by the Chapman brothers presented at this exhibit belong to the Disasters of War genre, which was first introduced to art in the celebrated series of engravings of the same name by Francisco Goya (1746-1828). The graphical series by Jake and Dinos Chapman, entitled the Disasters of War enters into a dialogue with the famous work by the Spanish graphic artist. The Chapmans "complete" Goya’s pieces, complementing his images with contemporary narratives, masking the cruelty with bright images of mass consumerism. For contemporary artists, Goya is one of the founders of modernism. "Goya's Disasters of War is a master sample of "man's inhumanity to man," they show us the very worst levels of human cruelty. Looking at these pieces, the viewer is obligated to read them in an unmodified state. But what is to be done when the cruelty of the image goes beyond all possible boundaries?" say Jake and Dinos Chapman. The collection of the State Hermitage Museum contains many works by Francisco Goya, which complement the exposition in the General Staff building superbly. The work of the Chapman brothers, Jake and Dinos, is among one of the most timely examples of Western European contemporary art. Multifaceted and provocative artists, Jake and Dinos Chapman invite viewers to reflect on ancient humanitarian values, expressed in the language of contemporary art, in an entirely new way. With apparent ease, Jake and Dinos Chapman occupy themselves with researching such complex and relevant themes as tolerance, taboo, and conformism. The work of the Chapmans is symptomatic for contemporary society, which has become accustomed to excluding issues that are uncomfortable for one reason or another. Jake and Dinos do not offer solutions and do not issue a call to arms. Art does not interest them as a political weapon. In the artists’ opinion, society at its current level of development is worthy of perceiving everything that is going on with humor. Jake and Dinos Chapmans' Four-headed woman, completed in 1997, is in the collection of the State Center of Modern Art, Moscow. The Jake and Dinos Chapman exhibit, the End of Fun, is a continuation of the State Hermitage Museum’s program for showing works by contemporary artists within the framework of the Hermitage 20/21 Project. The Hermitage 20/21 project was created in 2007 on the initiative of the General Director of the State Hermitage Museum, M.B.Piotrovskiy. The goal of the project is to coherently familiarize visitors to the museum with the most timely tendencies in contemporary Russian and Western art. This exhibit was prepared by the State Hermitage Museum with the help of the Hermitage Foundation in Great Britain and is being held with the participation of the White Cube gallery, London. The curator of the exhibit is Dmitri Yuryevich Ozerkov, the head of the Department of Contemporary Art of the State Hermitage Museum, holder of a Ph.D. in philosophy. An illustrated academic catalogue has been prepared for this exhibit, authored by Dmitri Ozerkov. It is not recommended that persons younger than 18 years old visit the Jake and Dinos Chapman. The End of Fun exhibit.

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