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Melanie Manchot [Videonale.13, 14]

*1966, in Witten GER, lives and works in London GBR
Studied at the New York University USA, City University London GBR and Royal College of Art, London GBR


Exhibitions [selection]:


2012  Situations, MAC/VAL Musee d’art contemporain, Paris FRA

2011  Videonale, Kunstmuseum Bonn GER
         Leap after The Great Ecstasy, Galerie m, Bochum GER [S]
         Wunder, Museum Deichtorhallen, Hamburg GER
         Sex Drive, Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Haverford, PA USA
         Dance (All Night, Paris), Nuit Blanche, Paris FRA [S]

2010  Celebration (Cyprus Street), The Whitechapel Gallery, London GBR [S]

2009  Insomniac Promenades, Sleeping/Dreaming in contemporary art, Passage de Retz, Paris FRA and Petach-
         Tikva Museum ISR

2008  May happiness knock you over, Brighton Museum GBR [S]



Melanie Manchot x

Celebration (Cyprus Street), 2010, 10:20 min [5 min excerpt], colour, sound [VIDEONALE.13]


“Celebration (Cyprus Street)” continues and, at the same time, highlights a series of works where Melanie Manchot deals with documents containing historical photographic group portraits. For centuries, group portraits in painting and photography have functioned as representations of societal relationships and networks, in which the depicted urban settings are  crucial in determining the contextualization of the things depicted. Manchot picks up on this principle in “Celebration”.


The camera sweeps almost casually across the scene, taking shots of the mixed crowd at the street party, which Manchot has organized in cooperation with the residents, giving the spectator the time to get an impression of the street’s denizens. In this crowd, the houses remain façades. But for decades, these buildings simultaneously have been the existing backdrop for those who have moved within and without their walls. It’s the houses that have created the true identity of the street. The glimpse into the microcosm of the street finally culminates in a group portrait for which the inhabitants come together on the street, little by little, raising their faces towards the camera. Thus composed, they remain still for some time surrounded by the sudden silence, and leave the camera to do its job of capturing them as a document of both their time and of their street. For the short duration of this portrait, they linger there in collective closeness. 


Tasja Langebach


Celebration (Cyprus Street) is commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella and funded by Film London (Digital Archive Film Fund) and Arts Council England.


Melanie Manchot x

Leap after The Great Ecstasy, 2011, 20:03 (5:50) Min, Colour, Sound [VIDEONALE.14]




Hardly any other sport seems, for a short moment, to approach the perfect illusion as closely as ski jumping. Year after year television once again shows us sportsmen who seem to sail weightlessly through the air, cheering spectators and euphoric reporters. The British artist Melanie Manchot’s images also examine these sporting events. Inspired by Werner Herzog’s documentary Die Ekstase des Bildschnitzers Steiner (1974), however, she presents the spectacle in a different light. An alpine landscape at night, surrounded by Swiss mountains, the snow-covered, pristine ski-jump, the monotonous sound of snow machines, the dazzling floodlights. All these turn the venue into a picturesque scene in which the frenzy of the competition is not yet visible. The scenes of this two-channel video work are shown in parallel. In them Manchot contradicts the typical impression given by the television reports, that most of the ski jumpers are superhuman. During the competition the camera observes the young contestants in the waiting room while they are readying themselves for the decisive jump. Close-ups of their faces reveal not merely their concentration and their focussing on victory, but also the tension and the nervousness just before it’s their turn. Unlike the TV pictures, however, Manchot denies us the resolution– the liberation of a successful landing – by leaving the typical picture of their flight to the viewer. Only an acoustic reference – the hiss of their skis on the in-run – provides an impression of the decisive moment, the take off, when all tension falls away.

Agnieszka Smyrek

Melanie Manchot