Artist and filmmaker Rachel Maclean examines the sweet and sinister world of cuteness through her curation of works from the Arts Council Collection and Birmingham’s collection.
Maclean’s display showcases the multiple manifestations of sinister cuteness with works ranging from 19th-century oil paintings to internet-inspired installations. Artists include John Isaacs, Gillian Wearing, Ana Maria Pacheco, Helen Chadwick, Paula Rego, Peter Blake and Hermann Sondermann.
From adult onesies to bunny-ear photo-filters, there is an overwhelming presence of cuteness in contemporary society. Maclean asks why we feel the need to share and reproduce cute things, and questions the fine line between cuteness and creepiness.
The gallery has been transformed with the artist’s signature colourful style and accompanying the exhibition is an interpretative video with a twist. Dr Cute – a grotesque bear-like creature played by Maclean – presents a short lecture on the themes explored in the show, while being repeatedly distracted by its contents. The doctor attempts to put forward an academic account of cuteness, but is constantly hindered by sudden emotional responses as works incite reflexes of love, repulsion and fear.