Skip to main content

Rachel Maclean – Spite Your Face


Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh
Five stars

Pull back the gold curtain and you’re in another world for what might be a never-ending screening of Spite Your Face, Rachel Maclean’s troublingly incisive thirty-seven-minute film-based fantasia, which comes home to Talbot Rice after first being seen in Venice last year. Drawn from The Adventures of Pinocchio, the Italian folk-tale charting the adventures of the little puppet-boy whose nose grows every time he tells a lie, Maclean’s dark reimagining is as shockingly un-Disney in its depiction of greed-induced brutality as the moment when Bambi’s mum got shot.

Maclean focuses on the rise and fall of Pic, a shell-suited urchin who buys his way into a blinged-up wonderland of glam-tastic delights, only to discover his celebrity lifestyle is on credit, and has been built on the flakiest of falsehoods.

All of Maclean’s pop-cultural tropes are intact, from its candy-coloured kids’ TV animated back-drops, to its ugly excursions into Shopping Channel hard-sell. Maclean plays every part with face-painted, digitally and prosthetically-enhanced relish in a production which, like the Oliver Twist/Prince and the Pauper-based Please Sir…(2014), lays bare the gaping divide between rich and poor. Except here she goes in even harder, angrier and more ruthless.

Consumer culture is exposed as a bloodied act of self-harm, a self-loathing short-term hit that gives men in power especially the sort of nosed-up sense of entitlement that causes them to believe they can get away with murder. Maclean may have made her film on the back of Trump and co’s ongoing grotesquerie, but given everything that has happened in the world since then in terms of bloated rich men being caught with their pants down, Spite Your Face looks even more frighteningly of the moment. As Pic’s travails are looped without definitive beginning or end, it suggests a fable for a patriarchy that’s just crashed back down to earth. 

The List, March 2018

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Art School Dance Goes On Forever – Snapshots Of Masters Of The Multiverse

Intro – Snapshots – Deaf School

1

In 1980, the same year as the Manchester band, Magazine, released a 7
inch single called A Song From Under The Floorboards – a three verse
and chorus distillation of Dostoyevsky's novel, Notes From Underground
– an art school scandal occurred.

This scandal took place in Liverpool, and was based around a project
called the Furbelows, although it became better known in the Liverpool
Echo and other organs that reported it as the Woolly Nudes.

The Furbelows, or Woolly Nudes, were a group of artists who had come
out of Liverpool College of Art, who, dressed in grotesque woolly
costumes which featured knitted approximations of male and female
genitalia, made assorted public interventions around the city centre as
kind of living sculptures acting out assorted narratives.

The Furbelows project had been funded by what was then Merseyside Arts
Association, and, after the participants were arrested and taken to
court on obscenity charges after what…

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…