Description: Jake and Dinos Chapman (b. 1966 and b. 1962)
fibreglass, resin, paint, fabric, wig and trainers
40½ x 22 x 9 7/8in. (103 x 56 x 25cm.)
Executed in 1994
Exhibited: Liverpool, Tate Liverpool, Jack & Dinos Chapman: Bad Art for Bad People, December 2006-March 2007 (illustrated in colour, p. 17).
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Executed in 1994, Dinos and Jake Chapman's Fuck Face is one of the most notorious icons of Young British Art. This sculpture has featured in several of the exhibitions dedicated both to the artists themselves and to that umbrella group which rose to fame during the mid-1990s, the period it was made. Fuck Face comprises a mannequin of a child dressed in a T-shirt and trainers, yet here the facial features have been replaced by a penis and an anus, hence its apt and concise title. That title itself is key: the works made in this series had names such as Two-Faced Cunt and Five Easy Pissers. They were British insults that had sprung from idiom to life, that had been given literal form, fleshly embodiments of offensive banter wryly aimed by the brothers at their viewers invoking a vocabulary uncommon in the more rarified world of art.
Both the title of Fuck Face and the appendage that dominates the features are jarringly at odds with the air of childish innocence and inquiry of this stumbling toddler, adding to the shock factor and sense of the uncanny with which it is drenched. The fact that this child's face sports these unlikely attributes is distinctly anti-Darwinian: it is an evolutionary abomination, a degeneration that anticipates the other figures from the Chapman menagerie and that concisely and humorously taps into many their core concerns. In a recent interview with Kirsty Wark, Dinos Chapman explained that the brothers' sculptures take their cue from 'inappropriate sculptural materials' and nowhere is this more clear than in the clash between the world of childhood and that of adulthood that results in this sculpture. That deceptively simple juxtaposition unravels a host of associations and observations. Mannequins are already sexualised by their very nature, invented in order to whet our capitalist appetites by presenting clothes such as this T-shirt and trainers in as beguiling a way as possible: what the Chapman Brothers appear to be doing is revealing some of the uncomfortable truths of the consumerist, gratification-obsessed society that we inhabit, pointing to the almost logical, inevitable next stage of our evolution. With its tumescent proboscis, this inquisitive child encapsulates the chaotic vision of the Chapman brothers with an all too-literally in-your-face intensity.