The installation Hell 65 Million Years BC 2004–5 is a single work composed of over seventy individual sculptures that together manifest a prehistoric scene of dinosaurs arranged around a volcano. The childlike sculptures are made from newspaper, toilet rolls and other classroom materials. The installation evokes the Surrealists’ fascination with child art, prehistoric art and graffiti, as frequently reproduced in the journals Documents and Minotaure during the 1930s, which coincided with the development of disciplines such as ethnography and child psychology. The installation addresses and undermines the overly prescriptive use of art through education, its assumed therapeutic and redemptive value, as well as the expectation that art will ‘brighten up our lives’. With self-evident irony, the Chapmans state that such works are ‘a reminder of what happy artists we are’.
The installation also concerns the incompatibility of two dominant belief systems – Christianity and Dawinism. This scene of ‘Hell’ represents the moment before the extinction of the dinosaurs with a (papier-mâché) meteor hurtling towards impact and is, paradoxically, dated according to the evolutionary calendar, rather than the Biblical one. It presents an absurdist take on the clash of ideologies that continues today in the confrontation of extreme and fundamentalist views – Creationist belief versus liberal, enlightened Science.