Rachel Maclean

13 May 2014
Rachel Maclean, The Lion and the Unicorn (2012), digital video, 11 minutes 29 seconds © the artist

Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums

Rachel Maclean (b. 1987, Edinburgh, UK) lives and works in Glasgow. Her work has been shown at Glasgow Film Festival (2014), Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge (2013) and Collective Gallery, Edinburgh (2013). Solo exhibitions include Zabludowicz Collection, London (2014) and The Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow (2014).

Over the past few years, Maclean’s highly distinctive visual output has enjoyed the acclaim of artists, curators and critics across the UK. Through masquerade and performance, her work engages with notions of identity, online media and memes, and takes the form of video, printmaking and installation. In her videos, Maclean ventriloquises various cultural types, from pop-culture characters to mythical figures and politicians.

A central strand of Maclean’s work addresses the ideals of Scotland and Scottishness and their reality as portrayed by contemporary mass media. The Lion and the Unicorn is a short film in which three archetypal characters debate points of view on nationalism, trade and finance, natural resources and politics. They each use Scotland’s history to expound their arguments, yet their views cannot be reconciled. Maclean uses costumes, makeup and digital retouching to embody each of these Scottish national stereotypes. The video uses audio from television broadcasts, dubbed over Maclean’s performances: the Lion is given Jeremy Paxman’s voice and the Unicorn Alex Salmond’s, as they squabble over the future of Scottish governance. A series of four prints also presented by the Contemporary Art Society echoes the video’s engagement with themes of Scottishness in Maclean’s signature maximalist style.

Presented by the Contemporary Art Society, 2014


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