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Signal Day Out: A Visit to Digital artist RACHEL MACLEAN

Visiting leading digital artist RACHEL MACLEAN at HOME in Manchester.


Signal Film and Media launched a lovely day trip last month to Manchester to see international moving image artist Rachel Maclean – shortlisted for the Jarman Award and representing Scotland at this year’s Venice Biennale. The exhibition took place at HOME (formerly the Cornerhouse). Whilst we aimed this visit at our lovely BFI Academy participants, it was open to everyone and we had some excellent feedback on the day. We well recommend a visit to anyone interested in digital arts and media.

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Part of: Our new Oct – Mar season , Art

Sat 29 Oct 2016 – Sun 8 Jan 2017

Wot u 🙂 about? presents a major solo exhibition of entirely new work by acclaimed Scottish artist Rachel Maclean, who will represent Scotland at the 2017 Venice Biennale. Curated by Bren O’Callaghan, Visual Art Programme Manager, HOME, and Sarah Perks, Artistic Director: Visual Art, HOME.

Maclean uses the fairytale genre to examine the murky boundary between childhood and adulthood. She explores ideas of  happiness and childhood as qualities that can be packaged and sold resulting in dark and unsettling adventures located in a netherland reminiscent of the supersaturated, candy-coloured palette of children’s television.

Centred on a linked body of new work, Wot u 🙂 about? includes a large format print series, We Want Data! (2016), developed during a residency at Artpace, San Antonio, plus a new film commission for HOME, It’s What’s Inside That Counts (2016). These will premiere alongside larger-than-life figurative sculptures directly relating to and overlapping with the props, costumes and aesthetic within the films.

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.

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. Find out more here.

Image copyright Rachel Maclean: It’s What’s Inside That Counts (2016)

It’s What’s Inside That Counts (2016), Rachel Maclean, is commissioned in partnership with HOME, University of Salford Art CollectionArtpaceZabludowicz CollectionTateFrieze Film and Channel 4 Random Acts.

The exhibition at HOME coincides with Rachel Maclean’s Wot U 🙂 about? at Tate Britain as part of Art Now, an exhibition series showcasing new work by emerging artists. Until 2 April 2017.