Neely S & Smith S (2019) The Art of Maximal Ventriloquy: Femininity as Labour in the Films of Rachel MacLean. In: Reynolds L (ed.) Women Artists, Feminism and the Moving Image: Contexts and Practices. 1st ed. London: I.B.Tauris. https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/women-artists-feminism-and-the-moving-image-9781784537005/
This essay makes a case for Scottish artist Rachel Maclean’s work as a form of feminist critique, positioning her within the tradition of women’s performance-based video art, such as that of leading figures Martha Rosler, Joan Braderman, Sadie Benning and, more recently, Pipilotti Rist and Miranda July. It considers how the intensive labour of her own performances, in which she plays the dual function of artist/director and performer, together with her thematic focus on the values of youth, celebrity and beauty, foregrounds a wider consideration of the work of femininity in contemporary culture. Often the weird and wonderful array of characters played by Maclean invoke familiar pop cultural types. Always strikingly off-kilter, they enable her to excavate the saccharine surfaces of popular culture in order to reveal the more grotesque and disturbing seam running beneath.