Scottish artist Rachel Maclean has described her Scotland + Venice commission for this year’s Venice Biennale as “a darkly comic moral tale, depicting a post-truth dystopia where the world is turned on its head, leaving the characters untethered to any sense of right and wrong, truth and lies.”

The new film installation, Spite Your Face, is being shown in a deconsecrated church, Chiesa di Santa Caterina, Cannaregio. Curated by Alchemy Film and Arts, in partnership with Talbot Rice Gallery and the University of Edinburgh, the film references the Italian folk story, The Adventures of Pinnocchio.

As in previous works, Maclean plays all the characters in the 30-minute film which is set across two worlds – the ‘above’ of bright, shiny, organised consumerism and the ‘below’ of poverty, filth and despair.

Said Maclean: “With this new film I set out to respond to significant changes in the political climate in the UK and abroad over the last 12 months – in particular the divisive campaigns in the lead up to the Brexit vote and the US Presidential election.

“These events have been central in heralding a new post-truth era, where politicians feel free to say what they want to help them gain popular support, with little regard for factual accuracy.”

Maclean has also responded to the context and history of Venice for the work, “drawing ideas and images from the city’s history”. The venue has had a direct influence on the presentation of the film.

“In particular, the architecture of the venue (a dramatic deconsecrated church) emphasises the topsy-turvy world depicted in the film, with the projection installed vertically in the alter space, rather than the traditional horizontal film format.”

This is the eighth Scotland + Venice presentation at the Venice Biennale since the project began in 2003.

A partnership between Creative Scotland, National Galleries of Scotland and the British Council, previous Scottish artists who have exhibited at Venice include Graham Fagen (2015), Duncan Campbell, Corin Sworn and Hayley Tompkins (2013), Karla Black (2011) and Martin Boyce (2009).

Rachel Maclean: Spite Your Face, a collateral event of the 57th Venice Biennale, Chiesa di Santa Caterina, Fondamenta Santa Caterina, 30121, Cannaregio, 13 May – 26 November 2017.

1, 3, 4. Rachel Maclean, Spite Your Face, 2017, digital video (still). Courtesy: the artist. Commissioned by Alchemy Film & Arts in partnership with Talbot Rice Gallery and the University of Edinburgh on behalf of Scotland + Venice.
2. Rachel Maclean, Spite Your Face, 2017, Installation view. Photo: Patrick Rafferty; Courtesy: Scotland + Venice. Commissioned by Alchemy Film & Arts in partnership with Talbot Rice Gallery and the University of Edinburgh

Follow Venice Biennale 2017 on Instagram: AIR Council members Bethan Lloyd Worthington and Binita Walia will be posting images from national pavilions, pop up exhibitions, artist-led projects and more during the Venice Biennale preview days. Follow their coverage on a-n’s on Instagram

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