Saturday, September 03, 2011

Chapman or Chapman

Photography isn't allowed in the exhibitions – I did take one but was shouted at for doing so. It wasn't any good anyway, so I've pinched this one.

It had been ages since I'd seen anyone famous – I sometimes wonder why I bother living in London at all. Today, though, I finally did see a celeb of sorts. Obscure? Check. Controversial? Check. Arty? Check. None other than Dinos Chapman, one half of the Chapman Brothers. Considering he looks like a generic middle-aged, shaven-headed Polish builder, it's a wonder I did spot him. It must have been the context: the White Cube gallery in Masons Yard, where he currently has an exhibition (I presume it's his, though the brothers refuse to say whose exhibition is whose).

Dinos (look at me on first name terms with him already) was showing some friends around his exhibition – a family with a couple of very young children. Was it appropriate to show them around a room full of mannequins of Nazi zombie soldiers, including some engaged in anal sex? Difficult to say; presumably the kids didn't understand it. Me, those Nazis are going to give me nightmares. (To be honest, I'm guilty of showing my daughter quite disturbing material – the other night it was Jan Svankmajer's Alice, which features quite scary animated skulls with bulging eyes scuttling around. Usually when I'm watching something violent or scary late at night, and for some reason she's woken up and come down to sit on the sofa for a while, I call it a 'blue towel' film. The first time this happened a few years ago – it was David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises – there was a blue towel lying around, so I draped it over a chair and put it in front of her so she couldn't see the TV screen. And hence the name 'blue towel' stuck. Unfortunately, she could still hear the film, so I had to cover her ears as well.)

Dinos' brother, Jake, has got his exhibition at the White Cube gallery in Hoxton Square. I'm not sure if it's the first time but it must be the first time in quite a while that they've put on solo shows, apparently without each other knowing what they've been working on. Either this is a lie or the brothers are remarkably in tune – there are similar elements in both exhibitions. Both are worth checking out and both seem the work of both brothers – as disturbing and offensive as ever.

Many find the Chapman Brothers arrogant dicks. I couldn't really say, perhaps they are, but I still like their art. It was whilst looking at the Nazi zombies that I thought they should make a horror film – and then vaguely remembered that they once had talked about making one. A quick Google reveals they were going to make a horror film – but don't seem to have mentioned it since 2005.

Their website has got some of their films, the most recent being a 2009 music video for PJ Harvey's song Black Hearted Love. Considering in a Guardian blog about the video they say they're 'breaking the rules of music videos' and call themselves 'super, super clever', the video is surprisingly conventional, almost cliched, consisting of PJ jumping up and down on a bouncy castle in slow-mo.

Perhaps part of the reason people call them arrogant dicks and almost as controversial as their artwork is their reputation for being difficult interviewees and making either pretentious or offensive comments. Lynn Barber claims she received a death threat from the brothers after interviewing them.

Only two more weeks before the exhibitions end.

Not to be confused with: the Mitchell brothers
Quite likely to be confused with: The Brothers Chaps

No comments :