Video art reframed for enthralling show

The University is to host the UK premiere of Scotland’s presentation at last year’s Venice Biennale, the world’s most prestigious art show.

Visitors will take their places in the transformed Talbot Rice Gallery as they watch Spite Your Face, Rachel Maclean’s celebrated video work.

The film will be displayed on a monolithic screen, suspended at one end of the Georgian Gallery, which will be decorated with navy carpet, gold fabric curtains and luxurious cushions.

Running from 24 February until 5 May, the work will be shown alongside internationally acclaimed artist David Claerbout’s choreographed, multi-video exhibition.               

Exhibition details

Distinctive voice

Commissioned by the Scotland + Venice partnership, Rachel Mclean’s Spite Your Face was curated by Alchemy Film and Arts in partnership with Talbot Rice Gallery and the University.

Maclean – who graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2009 – was selected to create a work to represent Scotland at Venice in 2017.

Spite Your Face is set in two worlds: one a bright, glittery upper world obsessed with image and consumerism; the other a warped, dirty and impoverished lower world.

Written in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, and during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Maclean says it is intended to comment on recent political upheavals.

Prestigious show

Since 2003, Scotland has selected artists to represent its vibrant contemporary art scene at the Biennale through the Scotland + Venice partnership. The initiative is run by Creative Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland and the British Council Scotland.

The exhibition at Talbot Rice Gallery is funded by Scotland + Venice, with additional support from the Art Fund. Scotland + Venice is a partnership between Creative Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland and the British Council Scotland.

Welcoming Rachel Maclean’s prescient artwork back to Edinburgh after its success in Venice is exciting in so many ways. I hope that other young artists – perhaps those following her path through ECA – are inspired by Maclean’s wholly unique approach to artmaking, and find their own distinctive voice as she has.

Tessa GiblinDirector of the University of Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery

Twist on classic

The pure necessity, David Claerbout

Characters from The Jungle Book, reimagined as real animals without human traits, feature in David Claerbout’s captivating new show of experimental video.

Removing traces of the characters’ human behaviour – their voices, songs and slapstick antics – he blends the cinematic viewing experience with another form of spectatorship, animals in captivity.

Innovative videos

Other works, such as Long Goodbye blend slow motion and time lapse footage to demonstrate the new terms by which we negotiate believability in a digital age.

A woman waves goodbye to the camera in slow motion, while her surroundings move rapidly, the shadows behind her tracing the passage of the day.

Elsewhere, an intriguing scene on a beach in Britany is shown in The Quiet Shore (2011), in which something (at first unexplained) has arrested the attention of a group of people.

Engaging artists

The exhibition is supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund, partnering with Edinburgh College of Art and the University to present an ambitious exhibitions programme at Talbot Rice Gallery.

Running from 24 February until 5 May, it concludes Talbot Rice Gallery’s year-long season of film

We congratulate Talbot Rice Gallery and the University of Edinburgh in bringing the work of these two significant, and deeply engaging artists to audiences in Scotland.

Amanda CattoHead of Visual Arts at Creative Scotland


Related links

Talbot Rice Gallery

Edinburgh College of Art

Creative Scotland

Scotland + Venice