Rachel Maclean: New exhibition at the Kunsthalle zu Kiel

February 15 to May 25

From February 15 to May 24, the Kunsthalle zu Kiel is showing the first solo exhibition in Germany by the multimedia artist Rachel Maclean (born in 1987, Scotland). Using digital video, virtual-reality and photographic technology, Maclean creates powerful narratives set in garishly colourful fantasy worlds. Her funny, scathing satires on contemporary life cite fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood and the children’s book The Wind in the Willows. Wearing outlandish costumes and elaborate make-up, the artist almost always plays the various characters in her works herself. Her distinctive compositions address topics such as nationalism, social changes in virtual space, gender images and consumer behaviour. The exhibition features HD video projections, a VR installation and digital paintings.


In short:

date: February 15 to May 24
opening hours: Tue–Sun: 10am-6pm , Wed: 10am-8pm, Mon closed
plate: Kunsthalle zu Kiel, Düsternbrooker Weg 1, Kiel

entrance fee 7 Euro / reduced 4 Euro
entrance fee for CAU students free

The work

For the first time in Europe, the Kunsthalle will also be showing Rachel Maclean’s latest work, Native Animals (2019). The Kunsthalle zu Kiel has received this work as a gift from the artist.

In the work Native Animals, Rachel Maclean develops her interest in themes of national identity with a specific focus on Brexit and Britishness. The installation consists of 23 digital paintings and an eight-channel video work, which is inspired by animal characters from the children’s stories The Wind in the Willows and Peter Rabbit. Her motifs reference idyllic country life as portrayed by classic English landscape paintings. But Maclean’s fairy-tale idyll is a dystopian place, shaped by the political crises and absurdities of our present times. Native Animals is a grotesque reflection of society, highlighting the issue of inclusion in and exclusion from national identity, and the segregation of social classes.

Among the works shown is the film Feed Me (2015), in which the artist focuses on the relationship between the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood, and increasingly childish behaviour in adults. The setting is a world ruled by a toy manufacturer called Smile Inc.

In her first artistic work using virtual-reality technology with the title I’m Terribly Sorry (2018), Rachel Maclean depicts a grotesquely distorted British city in which Britain’s self-image is fundamentally shaken. In terms of aesthetics and plot strategy, this work emulates the style of video games and sci-fi films.

Other works in the exhibition explore images of femininity, the power of advertising and the phenomenon of cuteness, which has become a ubiquitous part of our everyday culture.

The exhibition

The exhibition has been created in close collaboration with Rachel Maclean, who developed her own concept and elaborate exhibition design for the space at the Kunsthalle zu Kiel. The bright colours featured in her film and printed works can be seen on the walls and floors of the rooms, which invites the visitor into two different worlds. In the first room, parts of the Union Jack run across the walls above a red carpeted floor. In the upper level, Maclean’s works are screened against immersive pink walls and a bright blue carpet.

The exhibition will be accompanied by the first, extensive publication about the artist in German and English. The catalogue is published by Hatje Cantz Verlag with contributions by Joshua Paul Dale, Anette Hüsch, Muriel Meyer, Nina Power and Matthew Shaul.

The artist

Rachel Maclean was born in Edinburgh in 1987. She lives and works in Glasgow. The artist studied Drawing and Painting at Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland until 2009. Rachel Maclean has been participating in international film festivals and screenings since 2011 and can be seen in numerous solo and group exhibitions worldwide. Her most recent shows include exhibitions at the National Gallery London (2018/2019) and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2019/2020). She also represented Scotland at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017.

In 2014, Maclean received the Margaret Tait Award – Scotland’s most prestigious prize for video artists. In 2013 and 2015, she was on the shortlist of the Jarman Award, which pays tribute to artists in the field of innovative and experimental moving images. Website of the artist:  www.rachelmaclean.com


This exhibition contains works whose contents might disturb or offend visitors. Children and young people are recommended to visit the exhibition only if accompanied by their parents or as part of our exhibition placement programme.

Press contact and press material:

Christiane Zippel
Kunsthalle zu Kiel
Kiel University
+49 (0)431/880-5755