Visitors to the Current show at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, Hyde Park were directed by the Chapman Brothers with this message.
GET RID OF MEANING. YOUR MIND IS A NIGHTMARE.
Easier said than done when it comes to this art by the Chapman Brothers which features the familiar mutilated bodies and scenes of horrific torture and gruesome ritualised decapitations that do not necessarily contrive to horrify, as this sentence would appear to suggest.
The Chapman brothers are inclined to provide enough comforting context. We Monks were after all invited to enter a brand new swanky art gallery and no art lover as far as we are aware has thus far been harmed or traumatised by a Chapman image.
We entered cautiously and discovered the familiar grim images, scary in a "ghost train" kind of way. The Chapman Klansmen are comedy Klansmen with rainbow socks and comedy smiley faces. The Chapman crucified martyrs are nothing more than harmless corporate Ronald MacDonald effigies, and so very many of them as in the real world.
I found myself failing to "get rid of meaning" by comparing the Chapman Brothers to Richard Dadd, whose "Fairy Feller's" is arguably more horrific, given Dadd's state of mind, but far less horrifically explicit than the Chapman Brothers.
As far as we know the Chapman Brothers are not actually psychotic. They are more inclined to toy with the visitors most visitors go along with the toying. I could not fail to notice two American ladies failing to "get rid of the meaning" They provided me with an in-depth commentary on each particular scene of horror and mutilation as if Ronald MacDonald were a real person and these were scenes from a soap opera, a warped Nazi soap opera.
The miniature horror model show might also appeal to the model makers within all of us boys, seeking the same thrill you might get when you view an architect’s model of a new airport or a shopping centre complete with little trees to provide context and scale.
For this reason I did wonder why The Chapman Brothers had not provided a model Hornby Nazi train-set to circulate about the corpses. Yes, I do believe that there is a train spotting model maker and dark grim humour within us all.
We Monks saw "Hell", the earlier Chapman Brothers work which featured similar miniature grotesque models in glass cases. These works which took years of endeavour to construct were destroyed in the cataclysmic MOMART fire in the 2004. They have now been recreated and re-imagined somewhat in the same spirit.
I discussed this with a young "curator" in the gallery. I discovered that the new Serpentine Sackler Gallery was in fact an 1805 listed building and formerly a depositary for gunpowder and such. I again found myself failing to "get rid of the meaning", so I changed the subject and I told her that I was a little scared to go into the central section behind the black curtain, from where I could hear the sounds of horror. She said that I should not be scared and that all would be well if I were to enter..
Beyond the black curtain masked members of the KKK were sitting amongst the visitors watching a Chapman movie. There I observed Mrs Monk sitting next to a KKK pointy hat both of them watching the horror movie as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
There was a Chapmanesque resonance in the movie but no fearful reaction from the visitors. Just the occasional knowing laugh.