Zygotic Acceleration, Biogenetic, De-Sublimated Libidinal Model (Enlarged x 1000)

Chapman, Jake and Dinos

Primary Category: Visual Arts / Sculpture

Genre: Sculpture

Annotated by:
Henderson, Schuyler
  • Date of entry: Jul-16-2008
  • Last revised: Jul-15-2008


This 1995 mixed media sculpture consists of life-sized mannequins of children moulded to one another, naked except for black sneakers, and some of them deformed by genitals on their faces.


Shocking, no doubt, the piece is also a discomfiting representation of the sexualisation of children, possibly registering either sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or society's fears about these crimes. Zygotic Acceleration, Biogenetic, De-Sublimated Libidinal Model (Enlarged x 1000) is first and foremost a stark way of confronting an audience with a tremendously unpleasant image, alluding to science fiction and medical research and so implicating an aesthetic genre and scientific research in the production of these problematic images; science fiction and scientific research are, respectively, aesthetic and intellectual domains where the horrible and the unsettling become possibilities. Any audience is welcome to view this piece to consider what it says about childhood and sexuality in modern society, providing the audience is willing to see past the piece's antagonistic visual pun on "in your face" art. One can see why many audiences are not willing to do so.

There is another aspect of this piece worth mentioning. Zygotic Acceleration, Biogenetic, De-Sublimated Libidinal Model (Enlarged x 1000) is a perfect representation of one defintion of the uncanny, where the non-human and the human come to occupy the same place in an unsettling way. In a world where robots are more likely to be comic fembots than Stepford wives or invading hordes from outer space, and where computers and virtual reality are everyday experiences, the usurpation of the natural by the unnatural has become increasingly domestic and familiar, and the realm of the uncanny has been pushed further and further away; the Chapmans have discovered one of those realms that, for any number of ethical, developmental, moral, social and cultural reasons we wish to preserve as natural and protected. They usurp childhood innocence with these grotesque hypersexualized plastic replicas, part fashion (mannequins, the signifying sneakers), part "biogenetic" and very disturbing.


A larger image of the sculpture can be found at the web site of the White Cube Gallery. Click on the small middle image near the center of the page (under the large figure wearing red sneakers).

Primary Source

John A. Walker and Sarah Chaplin. Visual Culture: An Introduction (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997) p. 159.