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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Final Major Project: Considering Others – Rachel MacLean

Scottish artist Rachel MacLean plays all the characters in her films.  She is often unrecognisable though as she wears thick makeup and uses prosthetics. She uses film and photography to explore issues surrounding society and identity.

Video 1: (Rachel Maclean – Culture Label I The Skinny Magazine 2013)

Tate curator Elsa Coustou cites MacLean’s work as significant. “Maclean’s work presents a critical and satirical view of the excesses of consumerism within Western capitalist society. Her films stage grotesque and stereotypical characters who live in a dystopian near-future dominated by global corporations. An example of this is the recurring presence of technology within her films and prints, which is a nod to our current reliance on smart phones and social media. In her recent work she also examines the production and commercialisation of happiness and wellbeing,” (Five minutes on Rachel MacLean 2016)

MacLean’s work ‘It’s what’s inside that counts‘ is a surreal and satirical commentary about social media and our dependence on it. Data has a physical form that promised a better life in much the same way that adverts do. Data persists “pushing yourself to the limit to realise, you have no limit. Because when you’re fast on the inside, you can do anything.” (Twisted Fairytales: Rachel Maclean’s candy-coloured, post-internet apocalypse 2017)

Data is treated almost as a god, worshipped by characters all played by MacLean. She films against a green screen, digitally cloning and multiplying her image to fill the frame with many alter egos of herself. The work is meticulously carried out to produce a dark, disturbing, yet surreal deconstruction of our modern online world. This is emphasised even more by MacLean’s unique sugar-coated Simpson-esque aesthetics.

Videos 2 and 3 are about this project. Video 2 features MacLean talking about the exhibition and work, whilst video 3 is a small part of the film.

Video 2: (Rachel Maclean On Wot U Smiling About? 2016)

Video 3: (Again and Again and Again by Rachel Maclean 2016)

Love it or hate it, MacLean’s work draws the viewer in and forces them to consider the effects of social media and our online presence on our real-life selves. Personally, I find the work intriguing and thought provoking.


Five minutes on Rachel MacLean. 2016. [online]. Available at: [accessed 5 April 2018].

Twisted Fairytales: Rachel Maclean’s candy-coloured, post-internet apocalypse. 2017. The Unapologists [online]. Available at: [accessed 5 April 2018].


Video 1: Rachel Maclean – Culture Label I The Skinny Magazine. 2013. YouTube [online]. Available at: [accessed 5 April 2018].

Video 2: Rachel Maclean On Wot U Smiling About?. 2016. YouTube [online]. Available at: [accessed 5 April 2018].

Video 3: Again and Again and Again by Rachel Maclean. 2016. YouTube [online]. Available at: [accessed 5 April 2018].

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