News Column

All the colours of her Rainbow ; RACHEL MACLEAN - QUICK CHILD, RUN Trade Gallery, One Thoresby Street

November 15, 2013


RACHEL Maclean's glossy films repackage familiar stories for an audience savvy with but jaded by our 21st-century image-glutted pop media.

If you could compress all the imagery you see on Facebook in one day you might see something like these videos, says Bruce Asbestos of Trade Gallery in Nottingham, which has just opened an exhibition of three of Maclean's bright and shiny films.

In the first and shortest, Germs, shown on Channel 4 this year, Maclean sends up the advertising of goods aimed at the female demographic - perfume, beauty products, bio-yoghurts, cleaning liquids. All the adverts segue into one another, as if the products were indistinguishable, and end with a happy housewife being beaten to death by a bottle of toilet cleaner. In Lolcats, the Biblical story of the building of the Tower of Babel is retold for the internet age complete with txt msg abbreviations, an 80s pop video pastiche and dialogue from a Katy Perry interview. The third and longest film, Over The Rainbow, moves the story of Dorothy's odyssey into a Tellytubby landscape of rolling green hills and sees her performing in front of an X Factor panel of judges who are so moved by her singing they start crying.

Maclean gives all her films an expensive-looking dayglo digital sheen that looks contemporary and retro-modern. The use of dialogue culled from old movies also reinforces the sense that these are stories you've heard before; yet these are films which couldn't have been made at any time earlier than today. The subversive parody of the power of brands such as Starbucks and McDonald's also plays well with a generation more attuned to the political statements of Perry's ex Russell Brand than of George Osborne. They feel like 'now, says Asbestos, who is carving a niche in Nottingham out as a curator and promoter of cutting-edge film and video artworks.

His gallery programme tends to reflect Asbestos' own interests in social media and the democratic opportunities and imagery of the web.

With Maclean, who is from Glasgow, you get the feeling that is the work of someone who has gorged on and then regurgitated thousands of late 1980s pop promos. Her own music videos, seen on her website, feel like parodies of some of David Bowie's efforts from that era. My video attempts to unify the aesthetic of The Dollar Store, YouTube, Manga, Hieronymus Bosch and High Renaissance painting with MTV style green screen and channel changing cuts, she says. Inspired by the Britney Spears head shaving, I explore the moment at which unified, constructed identity throws its self up and tips into its opposite. The instant of self-consumption, when the signature white smile of the teen pop sensation begins to hungrily gnaw at its own image.

Quick Child, Run can be seen until February 8. Mark Patterson

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