Rachel Maclean at HOME Manchester
The sheer vibrancy of Rachel Maclean’s new solo exhibition at HOME Manchester, quiet takes your breath away. This major exhibition by the acclaimed Scottish artist forms part of HOME’s winter season and, for me, a must see for anyone prepared to be entertained, shocked and amused by the breadth of this presentation.
Rachel Maclean – Wot U 🙂 About?
Centred on a linked body of work, Wot u 🙂 about? comprises a large format print series, We Want Data! (2016) which was developed during a residency at Artspace, San Antonio, plus a new film commissioned by HOME, It’s What’s Inside That Counts (2016). These premiered alongside a number of larger than life figurative sculptures which directly relate to and overlap with the props, costumes and aesthetic within the films. And very well it works too!
Resembling hybrids of bored commuters, cutesy kids’ TV monsters and sickeningly engorged biological organs, the sculptural figures also function as inanimate viewers for a series of infographic videos, displaying spreadsheets, bar graphs and market research surveys to their unblinking users.
Playing on ideas about the cult of youth and the exaggerated enthusiasm of happiness marketing, they take the form of part playground-equipment, part grotesque and bloated mannequins, which upon closer inspection are being eaten alive by swarms of razor-toothed dolls.
I found the exhibitions theme dark and disturbing. It’s characters, particularly when seeing the film, are created and sustained by the need for celebrity. The dark side of social media with the main character constantly watching the number of likes/retweets and posting photographs as they go about their daily lives. The devastating effect of trolling when the character literally crumbles before your eyes as contact is lost with her followers and the trolls get to work destroying the carefully built persona .
I don’t want to give the whole story away. This really is something you should see for yourself. The painful truth is we can all in some way identify, if not personally, with someone who is totally in the thrall of social media and its constant need to be fed. The need to increase followers and the terrible toll taken when falling foul of the trolls.
HOME are also releasing the first major publication of Rachel Maclean’s sweeter-than-candy adventures, featuring comprehensive imagery, stills and drawings from her dark, self-generated fairytale landscapes.
The monograph includes contributions by Rachel Maclean, William Davies (author of The Happiness Industry: how the government and big business sold us well-being), Melissa Gronlund (writer and co-editor of Afterall Journal), and exhibition curators Bren O’Callaghan and Sarah Perks.
Rachel Maclean at HOME Manchester until Sunday 8th January 2017 (15+)