‘Photography is the backbone to everything I do and to how I think visually. I would suggest that most of my moving-image works, whether film or video, are strongly informed by photography – conceptually, aesthetically, in terms of their sense of time and duration. Cameras, whether still or moving, are crucial devices shaping the construction of the work. To me, cameras are not simply machines that generate the images I wish to make; more importantly, they are an organizing principle, an apparatus that becomes part of a set of relations I wish to create.’
Melanie Manchot’s diverse and research-driven practice employs photography, video, film and sound. Her long-standing areas of enquiry range from portraiture to participation and performance, to questions of individual and collective identities, and to the exploration of the very particular socio-economic and ecological microclimate of a specific alpine mountain and its community. Situated at the threshold between the documentary and staged events, Manchot’s work frequently involves an engagement with strangers.
Manchot’s methodology is based on processes of exchange, contribution and collaboration, often involving groups or communities and creating expanded portraits of people, both their individual and social selves. The work thereby poses ‘... a series of related questions on how visual art might form a dialogue on notions of personhood, and how I might contribute to the ongoing investigations into different theories of the self.’
Manchot first came to prominence in the 1990s for a groundbreaking series of naked photographic portraits of her mother. When first exhibited the works received widespread attention and contributed to a growing debate around the representation of women, age and contested notions of body politics. Since 2000 Manchot has increasingly incorporated film and video installation in her work with the frame of reference expanding to include archive film, experimental film and cinematic history.
Recent projects include the multi-channel video installations Twelve (2015), an exploration of lives spent in addiction and recovery, and 11/18 (2015) a nine-screen durational studio portrait, seven years in the making, which enquires into the nature of time, duration and commitment. Out of Bounds (2016), a cinematic two-part installation shot in the Swiss Alps is part of an ongoing engagement with the landscape, culture and people of the village of Engelberg, a well known winter sports venue.
Since 1997 Melanie Manchot (born 1966, Witten, Germany) has exhibited internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne (2016), Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth (2016), fig-2 at the ICA, London (2015), Galerie M, Bochum (2015), the Toronto Photography Festival (2012), Nuit Blanche, Paris (2011) and the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2010). Important group exhibitions include the Marl Media Arts Awards at the Museum Marl, Germany (2016), Group Therapy, FACT, Liverpool (2015), Welde Art Award, Stadtgalerie Mannheim (2014), The Rhythm Is…, Museum Folkwang, Essen (2014), Situations, Musee d’Art Contemporaine, Paris (2012), Wunder, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2011), the New Forest Pavilion at the 52nd Biennale di Venezia (2007) and Global Feminisms at the Brooklyn Museum, New York (2007). Her work is included in important public and private collections including the Arts Council Collection, London, FMAC, Fonds Municipal d’Art Contemporain, Paris and the Brooklyn Museum, New York. The artist lives and works in London.