Rachel Maclean selected as Scotland's entry in 2017 Venice Biennale
Glasgow artist to present new work at one of the world's most prestigious art exhibitions
Artist Rachel Maclean has been selected to represent Scotland at the 2017 Venice Biennale, an announcement which underlines with fluorescent pink highlighter her status as the rising star of young Scottish artists. The Scotland + Venice partnership made the announcement today, and the presentation is commissioned and curated by Alchemy Film and Arts in partnership with Talbot Rice Gallery and the University of Edinburgh. Maclean says she's 'hugely excited', and can't wait to start on the new commission.
The news comes after a highly visible year for the artist, whose work Feed Me was heavily showcased in British Art Show 8 and subsequently acquired as part of the permanent collection of Modern One. The artists who've previously represented Scotland at the Biennale – including Jim Lambie, Joanne Tatham & Tom O'Sullivan, Graham Fagen, Hayley Tompkins and Corin Sworn – are among some of the most respected artists at work today. Although Maclean is considerably younger, having only graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2009, she's possibly the most distinctive talent among them. Whatever your opinion of her disorienting, cartoonish video work – with its irreverent attitude to, well, everything – it doesn't look remotely like anyone else's.
Pat Fisher, principal curator of the Talbot Rice, comments that Venice is 'a place of decadence and Carnival, of mythical history and masquerade balls', and looks forward to seeing how Maclean will respond to it. The artist's work has focused lately on themes of nationalism and national identity, hot topics in the time of a referendum on Scottish independence, but she hasn't always been about poking fun at nationalist and unionist shibboleths. In an earlier work such as 2011's berserk digital image series Massacre of the Innocents, Maclean revelled in tropes from art history, gleefully stirring Rubens, Poussin and the Starbucks logo into a terrifyingly hilarious nightmare of child-slaughter, as carried out by and upon a teeming population of semi-clad cartoon pussycats. Hopefully, the challenge of the Biennale will liberate her imagination to similar heights.
Venice Biennale, 13 May–26 Nov 2017.