Rachel Maclean’s ‘Spite Your Face’ at La Biennale di Venezia

Rachel Maclean’s Spite Your Face, was curated by Alchemy Film & Arts for the 57th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia 2017.

Described by the artist as “a darkly comic moral tale, depicting a post-truth dystopia where the world is turned on its head, leaving the characters untethered to any sense of right and wrong, truth and lies” the exhibition ran in Venice from 13 May – 26 November 2017, at Chiesa di Santa Caterina in Cannaregio. Following its world debut in Venice in 2017, Spite Your Face returned to Scotland’s Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh for its UK premiere, 24 February – 5 May 2018.

Referencing the Italian folk-tale The Adventures of Pinocchio, Rachel offers a powerful critique of contemporary society, critiquing the underlying fears and desires that characterise the zeitgeist we find ourselves in today. Spite Your Face is a tale across two worlds – with a bright, glittering and ordered upper world, and a warped, dirty, impoverished lower world – where the lure of wealth, power and adoration entices a destitute young boy into the shimmering riches of the kingdom above.


‘Spite Your Face’ Trailer by Rachel Maclean from Rachel Maclean on Vimeo.

You can read Richard Ashrowan’s curatorial essay here:
Welcome to the New Baroque: Reflections on Spite Your Face

And further details here:


Some reactions:

“Pinocchio, misogyny, and the ‘lies’ of Trump and Brexit: Scotland unveils dramatic show at Venice Biennale” – Phil Miller, The Herald

“A dark and disturbing satire of the era of celebrity, fake news and reality television” – Moira Jeffrey, BBC

“Spite Your Face could only happen at the Venice Biennale. It is immersed in its location, dripping in the gold of the historical merchants and the contemporary oligarch’s yachts. The staging is astonishing, and the project itself, presenting Rachel Maclean to an international audience of the highest level, is vital.” – Rosamund West, The Skinny

“Shocking new film by Scots artist Rachel Maclean, inspired by Brexit and Trump, goes on show at the Venice biennale” – The National

Spite Your Face was commissioned by Alchemy Film & Arts for Scotland + Venice, curated by Alchemy’s Creative Director Richard Ashrowan, and produced by Ciara Barry and Rosie Crerar. Scotland + Venice is delivered in partnership with Talbot Rice Gallery and the University of Edinburgh.

Exhibition Details:

Scotland + Venice, Chiesa di Santa Caterina, Fondamenta Santa Caterina, Cannaregio 30121

Dates: 13 May – 26 November 2017

Closest vaporetto stops: Ca’ D’Oro & Fondamento Nove

Opening hours: 10am – 6pm, Tuesday – Sunday

Free Admission