IN the sepulchral gloom of the Chiesa di Santa Caterina in the quiet north of Venice, Scotland's independent entry to the biggest visual arts festival hits you between the eyes.

Spite your Face by Glasgow-based artist Rachel Maclean is a surreal, dazzling, and at times shocking rumination on the rise of 'fake news', consumerism, demagogues, and misogyny.

Inspired by the rhetoric of Trump and Brexit, as well as the classic Italian tale of Pinocchio, Rachel Maclean's 37 minute film for the Scotland + Venice exhibition features a rape, a Madonna-fairy character, and a tale of rags to riches all staged, written, and acted by the 29-year-old artist.

The film, which officially opens at the 57th Venice Biennale of art this weekend, uses the Pinocchio tale to take on weighty contemporary themes as well as depicting violent misogyny in the show backed by £350,000 in funding from Creative Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland and the British Council.

In the film, shot and made in Glasgow, the lengthening nose of the Pinocchio-like character Pic, whose rises from poverty to become a demagogue powered by lies, becomes both a phallic symbol, both used in a sex act and as a weapon to rape the fairy or Madonna character.

Since 2003, Scotland has staged a separate show from the official UK pavilion, which this year will show work by Phyllida Barlow, and this year's show may be its most political yet - Ms Maclean, who trained at Edinburgh College of Art, said she was directly inspired by recent political and social events.

The film, shown on a large 8m by 5m screen in the darkened church, also references the context of the show - Venice with its many baroque and elaborately decorated churches alongside its elaborate and expensive high-prices stores and fashion houses.

The Herald had a preview of the film - which also features song, satire, special effects and parody - and afterwards Ms Maclean said of the disturbing assault scene: "I've been disturbed and troubled by the recent rise and confidence in misogyny, the rise in anti-feminism, and reactionary attitudes to feminism, and that coupled with a feeling that we are immune, as a culture, to violence against women in images and the exploitation of women, images of women's bodies used to sell perfume or cars, and it is so ingrained we are not shocked by it anymore.

"I wanted the film to feel jarring, to make it uncomfortable and difficult to watch, and didn't want it so sit at that level of immunity."

The film does not directly make reference to either Trump or Brexit, but the artist said: "I was processing a lot of the sense of how these lazy lies that were used through the Brexit campaign and the Trump campaign, and that didn't effect the result.

"I got interested in how difficult it is to penetrate a narrative that has gained political currency, and how easy it is to use lies to substantiate ideas that already have currency.

"The rags-to-riches tale is so much in our culture, you see it in things such as Britain's Got Talent...I was inspired by how compassion-less those [rags to riches] narratives are, and generate a lack of compassion for other people's suffering."

The show will be on display in Venice until November.

It will be shown at Talbot Rice Gallery at the University of Edinburgh from March 2018 and at Chapter, Cardiff from Oct 2018.