With rising sea levels, far right politicians, a fear of hostile artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology weapons, it’s not weird artists are exponentially creating dystopian artworks. But Rachel Mclean’s moving images are not your usual dystopian creations. It’s over the top theatrical, it’s surreal but it’s not too far removed to be banal.
With a truckload of fuschia pink, royal blue, and bright gold, Maclean’s Spite Your Face (2017) is a rags-to-riches story set in an alternative world. One where poor boy Pic goes from his dark and poor world to a glittering new world. Lured by the promise of wealth and adoration, the boy gets famous by lying which makes his nose longer but that only adds to his popularity until it all comes tumbling down. It’s not clear when the story begins or ends – it’s an inescapable Pop meets Pinocchio cycle of deception and ambition.
The second piece, I’m Terribly Sorry (2018) is a VR experience, where the viewer wanders around in a very-very-very dystopian British sci-fi city, filled with gigantic tourist souvenirs, rain, and darkness. It’s the point in the future where capitalism has seriously gone wrong. The visitor interacts with VR peep, stereotypical annoying yups, who try to elicit money. When you don’t expect it, you do something wrong, and everything escalates.
The last piece is also very recent, Make Me Up (2018). The story begins when protagonist Siri wakes up in a Paris Hiltonesque 00s esthetic house. You can follow her brutal adventures in which she has to compete with other women for survival while being monitored by surveillance cameras. As the exhibition leaflet explains: “it takes a darkly satirical look at the contradictory pressures faced by women today, examining how television and social media can be fun, expressive spaces to explore identity, but can also be gilded prisons that encourage women to conform to societal ideals.”
While the hyperbolic storylines make you believe it’s all in good fun to some extent, Maclean makes you think twice about power structures that might mean the end of the world as we know it, and the world as we know it has some sinister abuses lurking in the corner as well.
For more information about this exhibition, click here.