World Peace Through World Domination II, III, IV, 2013—a trio of black fabric banners printed with ominously identical white “smiley” faces—greets visitors to Jake and Dinos Chapman’s debut solo show in Istanbul, as if to announce the ludic abjectness of their oeuvre is a country of its own. The ground floor is studded with vitrines featuring their showstopping, meticulously choreographed, ghastly slaughter scenes with tiny figurines (such as The Sum of All Evil, 2012–13), and the first floor offers a sustained emphasis on the duo’s appropriation and deskilling strategies. A new neon commission, We Are Artists II, 2017, hangs across from The Same Thing But Better, 2010—their clinical yet incomplete re-creation of Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995, 1995, by fellow YBA Tracey Emin. While Emin found it impossible to re-build her piece after its demise in a tragic storage-unit fire in 2004, the Chapmans had no qualms about the task of reproducing Emin’s possibly most notorious work to date. Their cannibalistic dissolution of the mythic artist-persona as the locus of genius is reflected in the blinding 170-word neon sculpture, in which the artists label themselves “sore-eyed scopophiliac oxymorons” (after the same text they wrote in mud on a gallery wall in 1991).
The ultimate exhaustion of this already tired medium, neon, goes hand in hand with the nearby “Shitrospective” series, 2009: These miniaturized and haphazardly painted cardboard-poster remakes of some favorite Chapman sculptures—among them, Great Deeds Against the Dead, 1994, and Two-Faced Cunt, 1995—present the artists’ further vilification of their already biting, erotically transgressive works. Surely, the masochistic deconstruction of their own art resembles, as Jake Chapman admits in an interview in the exhibition catalogue, “a dog [returning] to its vomit” and is extremely potent as such.