Neoliberalism is not working. The modern world offers repetition, the banal, mental ill health and reconfigured dystopias on loop, my work seeks to define this sentiment through a practical research approach. I contemplate Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams, 'inventing the Future', alongside contemporary discourse which questions, Capitalist Realism: Is there No Alternative? (Fisher 2009). The work exists between theory, art writing and visual practice, taking the form of sound, video and scripted material. In this review, I aim to present a 'controlled confusion' reflecting my own sentiments as I find myself in a perpetual state of work in progress and enquiry.
Rachel Maclean is a Glasgow-based video artist, who describes her work as 'slipping inside and outside of history and into imagined futures' (Maclean 2016). Feed Me (2015) is Maclean's most ambitious piece to date, commissioned by the British Art Show and funded by Video Umbrella Productions. It is extreme, aggressive and at times, difficult to watch. This response is a cautionary review of the horror that unravels through Rachel Maclean's latest one-hour film: a forthcoming dystopian society, a nanny state, and the exploitation of children through capitalist excesses.
Inspired by fairy tales, mythology, reality TV and Disney-fied imagery: a 'smile or die' (Ehrenreich 2009) culture suggests that society must be happy at all times or the results are catastrophic. Less-than-subtle references hint at child abuse: there is no escape from the protagonist of the 'Beast', a grotesque sexual menace who appears intermittently, peering through wall vents or creeping up from underground sewer systems and whose behaviour seems reminiscent of a sexual predators. Maclean convincingly acts out every part, from a young Disney-style princess to a crazed infatuated entrepreneur and the aforementioned 'Beast'. The prosthetics and makeup at times appear intentionally amateurish. Seam lines between the mask and Maclean's face are left purposefully visible; a sense of a non-truth, stereotyped, two-dimensional characters can be likened to online avatars; a nauseating falseness, perhaps reflective of a general mood; a dire mistrust of the current political and social climate.
'Too much, too cute, too happy, too true' (Maclean 2015). Maclean creates her own language derived from the abbreviations common in 'text speak'. Her work presents corporate capitalism as king, a pre-determined world of commerce where it is always pink for girls and blue for boys. The film itself sells one key ingredient: Happiness. The world it presents is saccharin to its core; everyone should be happy, everyone should be having fun. However, Maclean in fact presents a failed society in which its own children rise from an enforced, zombie existence and who ultimately, violently...
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