Enveloped in a candy-coloured haze of pink and violet, six urchins re-enact covers of Let it Go, the famous song from the Disney picture Frozen. The concept sounds saccharine-sweet, but the children’s reality is an altogether different story.

Aww, so cute! – or not

The wide-eyed urchins in Rachel Maclean’s videos evoke the sugary aesthetics of animated film, yet their reality is a far cry from a Disney fantasy. Filmed in bleak urban fringes, they look downtrodden, lonely and sickly, their hopes and dreams presented in a depressing pallor. This series of works examines children’s hopes and dreams.

Artist as actor

All the characters are played by Maclean herself, who mimes to songs and dialogue sourced from YouTube videos.

Maclean has used the same technique in her earlier videos, which combine a borrowed soundtrack with green screen technology. Thus she creates fantasy kingdoms that explore issues related to identity, culture and nationality.

The wretched protagonists are sharply contrasted with the Disney song, which conveys an empowering message about conquering one’s fears and limitations. The videos are a critique of marketing directed at children, whose dreams and desires are an easy target for commercial manipulation.

The work was originally commissioned by Daata Editions