Happy & Glorious is a new cinematic exhibition by Glasgow-based artist Rachel Maclean that explores ideas of national identity, class and Empire.
In this solo exhibition Maclean presents A Whole New World, recently commissioned for the Margaret Tait Award, and 2012’s The Lion and The Unicorn, alongside Please, Sir… – a brand new split-screen video work for CCA.
Taking its title from a lyric in the British national anthem, Happy & Glorious presents a darkly humorous take on contemporary national identity, exploring contentious symbols of patriotism, imperialism and social status.
The viewer is invited into to enter a shape-shifting realm in which an Adidas-striped Oliver Twist mugs a Tudor Prince at knife point while a well-dressed imperial lion summons a globe from a magical soda bottle. Maclean is the only actor in the work and mimes to found audio plundered from a myriad of sources, including Britain’s Got Talent and various productions of the film The Prince and The Pauper.
Aesthetically mesmerising and grotesquely maximal, the work presents otherworldly digital realms, reminiscent of both a post-apocalyptic video game and a monstrously comic 18th-century caricature. Shot largely against green-screen, Maclean creates worlds in which identities merge and unravel, presenting feverishly positive visions of nightmarish unstable apparitions.
A one-day symposium on Sun 15 June will accompany the exhibition. British and international speakers will discuss national identity in relation to artistic practice. Check back for details.
The exhibition will also be accompanied by a film programme engaging with the process of independence and social change.