The Chapman Family Collection 2002 is a collection of faux-ethnographic sculptures which incorporate logos and symbols associated with the fast food chain McDonalds. References to McDonalds have featured recurrently in the Chapmans’ work as shorthand for the pernicious excesses of capitalism.
By playing on the illusion of an actual collection of artefacts assembled during the early twentieth century – such as those built up by modern artists including Pablo Picasso – it highlights the fact that the history of modern art and Modernism is based on the ‘consumption’ of foreign cultures, misread and designated as ‘primitive’. By manifesting an obvious pretence, a series of self-evident fakes, the work both plays up and ridicules the duplicity of such systems of appropriation, consumption and assimilation. It addresses the way that art, or material culture, is dressed up in the symbolic language of the culture in which it is presented – affording readings that maintain the dominant ideologies rather than challenge the status quo. It also points out the role of multinationals and global capitalism in cultural imperialism, as well as the way we are ‘fed’ corporate brands through marketing logos. At the root of this work is the aim to make clear the omnipresence within contemporary culture of symbolic language and systems of meaning that we frequently overlook, and thereby to reveal their instability and undermine them.