Press Release

When Humans Walked the Earth

When Humans Walked the Earth: Press related to past exhibition.

Tate Britain  Level 2
30 January – 10 June 2007

Jake and Dinos Chapman are among the most significant and best-known contemporary British artists working today. They have created a major new work especially for Tate Britain called When Humans Walked the Earth.  This special display opens from 30 January and coincides with their mid-career exhibition Jake and Dinos Chapman: Bad Art for Bad People, on display at Tate Liverpool until 4 March 2007.

When Humans Walked the Earth  is directly related to the Chapmans’ early sculpture Little Death Machine (Castrated) 1993, in the Tate Collection. Elements of the earlier piece – including a brain, milk-bottles and tools - are reproduced in bronze to create a series of impossible machines.

The machines emulate biological and psychological states such as breathing, thinking, copulation and death – contesting the distinctions we make between man and machine and assumptions about historical progress.   When Humans Walked the Earth 2007 questions mechanistic theories of the human mind – notably those of the pioneering psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud – and also makes reference to Dada and Surrealism’s ability to transform everyday objects into something that challenges conventional perception.   Cast in the traditional medium of bronze, these objects evoke a heroic tradition of monumental sculpture, knowingly undermined by their scatological imagery and subversive intent.

Jake and Dinos Chapman – born in 1962 and 1966 respectively – both graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1990 and began collaborating soon afterwards.  They rose to prominence during the 1990s and have since created a rich and provocative body of work, which draws from a wide variety of sources including art history, philosophy, artificial intelligence and cybernetic theory. In 2003 the Chapmans were nominated for the Turner Prize.

This special display is curated by Clarrie Wallis, Curator (Contemporary British Art) at Tate Britain.  It is accompanied by a catalogue produced by Tate Liverpool, which is the first publication to take an overview of the Chapmans’ work to date.  It includes Clarrie Wallis’ interview with the artists about the new work, along with working drawings and photographs of the work in progress.