Exploring Contemporary Art - British Art Show 8

Rachel Maclean - LolCats (2012)

Artist biography: 

Rachel Maclean was born in Edinburgh in 1987 and later studied at the city’s College of Art.  In 2013 she won the Glasgow Film Festival Margaret Tait Award and she also took part in the Generation event celebrating Scottish contemporary art.


Maclean creates highly stylised videos set in fantasy environments. Within the works Maclean explains that she plays multiple characters or clones, who ‘mime to appropriated audio and toy with age and gender’. In 'Over The Rainbow' (2013) and 'LolCats' (2012), she becomes Katy Perry, an aristocratic cat, a headless pop diva and even a germ.


There are a great deal of different inspirations within Maclean’s art work – artistic, historical and political – from internet memes to Scottish independence, Disney films to William Hogarth. She describes her project as an attempt ‘to unify the aesthetic of The Dollar Store, Youtube, Manga, Hieronymus Bosch and High Renaissance painting with MTV style green screen and channel changing cuts.’ (Quoted from www.rachelmaclean.com).  

LolCats (2012)

A 15-minute digital video piece, produced as a part of a commission for Generator Projects, Dundee. (Watch a short extract on the artist’s website – link below).

Maclean describes the work as follows:

‘“LolCats" – inspired by the Internet meme of the same name – explores an amalgam of past and present manifestations of cat worship. Shot entirely against green-screen the video presents a mutable space, at once a mysterious lost civilisation and a modern day touristic fun park. The narrative centres on a young female protagonist, presenting her in moments of intrigue, fear, metamorphosis and decay. 

‘Journeying through this erratic environment she encounters a bejewelled Katy Perry discussing dental hygiene with an aristocratic cat, stumbles upon an army of hostile feline cyborgs and is surgically dissected by a gothic physician.’

(Quoted from www.rachelmaclean.com).  

Discussion ideas:

  • What three words would you use to describe LolCats?
  • What shades are the saccharine colours Maclean uses in the video?
  • Why do you think Maclean uses these colours?
  • How does Maclean play with references to popular culture like the LolCats meme?

View other relevant My Learning resources or see the teachers' notes page for discussion and activity ideas. 

Scroll down for a list of links and resources on this topic.

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