Artist and filmmaker Rachel Maclean examines the world of cuteness by curating works from the Arts Council Collection and Birmingham’s collection to reveal how objects and images can have the unique ability to be simultaneously sweet and sinister. 

Contemporary life is saturated by cuteness, from adult onesies to social media photo- filters, playground-like office spaces to wide eyed emoticons, we can’t move for all things sweet and cuddly. However, despite its pervasiveness in advertising, internet and commodity culture, cuteness often seems too frivolous to be deserving of proper analysis. 

In Too Cute! Rachel Maclean has made an exhibition where cuteness is taken seriously. She is fascinated by its ability to captivate and placate us and through her investigations into the collections she has explored both what it has meant to us historically and why contemporary society is so fixated on the sharing and reproduction of cute objects and images. 

Too Cute! presents a range of artworks that show different takes on cuteness. The works in the exhibition range vastly in age and intention, moving from contemporary based issues to 19th-century oil paintings. Maclean’s fascination is with the illusive moment where cute objects slip into their opposite and instead of inspiring care, insight fear and disgust.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an interpretative video with a twist! ‘Dr. Cute’ - a grotesque Care Bear like creature played by Maclean - will present a short lecture on the themes explored in the show. The doctor will attempt to put forward an academic account of cuteness and its affects, but will be constantly hindered by sudden emotional responses, as artworks incite reflexes of love, repulsion and fear.

Partnerships

Too Cute! is part of the Arts Council Collection National Partnership Programme which sees four major UK galleries working together to curate, host, and share a series of exciting and innovative new exhibitions with works drawn from the Arts Council Collection. The National Partner venues are Birmingham Museums Trust, Walker Art Gallery National Museums Liverpool, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Towner Gallery, Eastbourne.

Find out more about the Arts Council Collection.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is an Arts Council Collection National Partner.

Arts Council Collection is managed by Southbank Centre, London on behalf of Arts Council England.

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