Artist Rachel Maclean unveils 'dystopian world' created for new feature film

Rachel Maclean's new film is billed as 'part horror movie, part comedy.'
Rachel Maclean's new film is billed as 'part horror movie, part comedy.'
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One of Scotland’s leading multi-media visual artists has revealed the first glimpse into a dystopian world she has created for a new movie in which a group of women are trapped in a cruel reality TV-style competition.

Rachel Maclean has created a “part horror movie, part comedy” to mark 100 years since women won the right to vote and the impact of the MeToo movement.

Set in a “brutalist candy-coloured dreamhouse,” it will explore how feminism has become entangled with capitalism and the “shortcomings” of the road to equality over the last century.

Make Me Up sees the inmates of a house forced to go head-to-head in a series of demeaning tasks to compete for survival as they are watched over by 24-hour surveillance cameras - before two attempt to subvert the rules .

The Edinburgh-born artist says it explore the contradictory pressures modern-day women are facing, including how TV and social media can become a “gilded prison” encouraging them to conform to “strict beauty ideals.”

Maclean, who created a “post-truth dystopia” to represent Scotland at the Venice Biennale, deployed the abandoned St Peter’s Seminary in Argyll as a “brutal modernist” backdrop for her new film, which she made with Glasgow-based Hopscotch Films and arts charity NVA.

Make Me Up will premiere at the London Film Festival in October before being screened around the UK, include a Q&A event with MacLean at the Glasgow Film Theatre.

Maclean, a graduate of Edinburgh College of Art, said: “It’s 100 years since women got the vote and with the rise of the MeToo movement and similar activism it seems that feminism is back with a powerful new lease of life.

“Simultaneously, however, there has been a visible backlash against these developments, as well as a complicated entanglement of radical politics into consumerism, where feminism risks becoming a market, an image you buy into rather than a political force.

“Make Me Up is an exploration of both the achievements and the complications of contemporary feminism, and sets out a discussion of how women’s bodies, voices and minds contend with a world that all too often prefers you to be slim, silent and subservient.”

John Archer, producer at Hopscotch Films, said: “This dazzlingly talented artist has created a uniquely vivid filmic world where cultural constructs of femininity are dissected, enacted and reformed into a dynamic meditation on what it means to be a woman - past, present and future.

“Rachel Maclean is a unique artist and her satirical take on the absurd ideals of beauty in art and contemporary life is wild and provocative.”