Multimedia artist Rachel Maclean ambitious film unfurls in a seductive and dangerous world where surveillance, violence and submission are a normalised part of daily life. In saccharine pastels, this darkly comic film exposes the heteropatriarchal ideologies embedded in prevailing narratives of gender and beauty.
Siri and Alexa have been made over at a hyperreal beauty clinic where the candyfloss décor cannot mask the more sinister happenings. Maclean delivers a searing performance as Figurehead, the splendidly attired pedagogue who presides over the clinic and speaks with the voice of Kenneth Clark, from the high-minded 1960s BBC series Civilisation. Intent on educating her girls on art’s construction of female beauty, Figurehead also remodels them in its image. Cleverly referencing the suffragette Mary Richardson’s 1914 attack on the Rokeby Venus, Make Me Up is on a mission to deconstruct the tradition of patriarchal art criticism.
Make Me Up, Dir. Rachel Maclean, UK, 2018, 84 mins, English