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Rachel Maclean - Spite Your Face

Rachel Maclean - Spite Your Face

Exhibition that explores the divisive campaigns in the lead up to the Brexit vote and the US Presidential election.

Spite Your Face was exhibited as part of the 57th Venice Biennale from 13 May to 26 November 2017, presented as a large-scale projection at the altar of the deconsecrated church of Santa Caterina. Responding to the tall, narrow altar location within the church – and simultaneously referencing ‘portrait mode’ videos made on a smartphone – Maclean produced the film in portrait format.

The background to the film was a practice-based research project that set out to respond to significant changes in the political climate in the UK and overseas during 2016-17, and in particular the divisive campaigns in the lead up to the Brexit vote and the US Presidential election. Maclean was interested in the heralding of a new post-truth era, where politicians feel free to say what they want to gain popular support, with little regard for factual accuracy.

The central character in the film is a Pinocchio-esque figure who rises from a deprived social status to the heights of power by constantly lying. Meanwhile, those around him celebrate the grotesque physical consequence of telling untruths – his increasingly large nose.

Church with video projection

Maclean presents a post-truth dystopia, where the world is turned on its head, leaving the characters untethered to any sense of right and wrong. The film is presented on loop, so that the narrative – and the character’s rise and fall – appear as an unending cycle.

The film was commissioned by Alchemy Film and Arts, in partnership with Talbot Rice Gallery and the University of Edinburgh for Scotland+Venice. Spite Your Face was restaged at seven other venues in the UK and overseas between 2017 and 2019.

 

 Download project PDF: Rachel Maclean - Spite Your Face (1.3 MB)

Ambulation at BALTIC with Google Design, Gateshead, UK (2018). Image: It

Main image:
Rachel Maclean, Spite Your Face, 2017, installation view.
Commissioned by Alchemy Film & Arts for Scotland + Venice at the 57th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia 2017.

Second image:  
Rachel Maclean, Spite Your Face, 2017, digital video still.
Commissioned by Alchemy Film & Arts for Scotland + Venice at the 57th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia 2017.