Yet the show’s centerpiece was the much-touted Scottish filmmaker ’s
contribution: the 2016 video It’s What’s Inside that Counts
. Probably best known for representing Scotland at the 2017 Venice Biennale, Maclean has become a genuine art star in the U.K. in recent years. This winter, her films were all over London. At the none-more-venerable National Gallery
, her video The Lion and the Unicorn
(2012) was screened as a response to that most trite signifier of Scottish identity, ’s Monarch of the Glen
(ca. 1851); and the Zabludowicz Collection premiered a new work, titled Make Me Up
(2018), a wild, unnerving acid trip of a movie that touches upon female insecurity, social-media addiction, and feminism as a commodity.
It’s hard to miss the appeal of Maclean’s work to public and private institutions alike. At a moment when much new art could be considered alienating and heavy on theory, Maclean’s videos have clear, fairytale narratives and an aesthetic that has more in common with the productions of Pixar Studios than it does any avant-garde cinema I’ve seen. Were it not for the gross-out, borderline-unwatchable body horror and knowing political commentary she adds to the mix, you could almost imagine her videos showing on Nickelodeon or the BBC’s CBeebies network. There’s something deeply uncomfortable and just a little annoying about the mix of gore, millennial snark, and whimsy that characterises Maclean’s films. Like them or loathe them, one thing is for sure: They are guaranteed to make you squirm.