Critiquing the negative impacts of social media is a subject that’s been done time and time again, as it went transformed from burning topic to an anodyne issue in contemporary society. Cue Rachel Maclean, the Scottish artist and filmmaker, whose latest project Wot U :-) About? brought the critique back to the table.
Part of Tate Britain’s Art Now series, Maclean’s one-room exhibition creates an alternative universe with grotesque characters (all depicted by the artist) which look like an exaggerated version of the Simpsons family after a Harajuku makeover. The room is painted purple, blue and yellow with glittery pink carpets, six large prints and a digital video, all contributing to the Barbie-house atmosphere. The storyline of the video focuses on a glorified female character in a world obsessed with her selfies and internet cables, told through ways of modifying traditional iconography and language used in children’s TV, advertising, social media and fairy tales. The outcome is a mix between an episode of Black Mirror and a Disney princess film, with satirical musical numbers and anxiety-driven macabre elements visualised in aggressive colours that demand attention.
Although Maclean’s past work has been cohesive with themes and methodologies, her latest project definitely puts her forward as the new generation Cindy Sherman, bridging the gap between performance, multimedia and traditional formats of framed art. Creating a world that intrigues and scares, entertains but critiques, Rachel Maclean is an artist that’s only just scratched the surface of her artistic expression.