Towner is delighted to present People Places Propositions, the first major exhibition of new and recent work by Melanie Manchot including the premiere of Out of Bounds (2016), a cinematic two-part installation shot in the mountains of Engelberg in Switzerland. Out of Bounds sits alongside 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 premiered for fig.2 at the ICA, London in 2015.
Staged as two separate large-scale projections, Out of Bounds follows the unseen labour of alpine workers in Engelberg as they perform the routine daily tasks that allow the winter sports industry to function. In sequences of mesmerising, endless choreography played out on the snowy mountain slopes, one team arises early to detonate controlled avalanches after fresh snow falls, and the other, a group of piste-bully drivers, flattens and compresses the mountain snow every night as if with an enormous iron. The films reflect Manchot’s long fascination with the historic shift in the perceptions of mountains, initially as horrifying, fearful places to the aesthetic appreciations of the Sublime, and now our contemporary desires for playgrounds of leisure and activity.
11/18 is a nine-channel monitor installation, composed of footage edited from ﬁlming the countenance of the same girl for the duration of one minute, every month, between the ages of eleven and eighteen. Never chronological, the portraits present and then withdraw, the girl’s appearance and ways of relating to the camera altering with each take. Employing the restricted palette of a studio portrait and ﬁlming on analogue Super 8 ﬁlm the work emerges as a quest for identity and character, and an enquiry into time, duration and commitment.
Towner is the culmination of a UK tour for Twelve, Manchot’s video installation exploring the intimate stories, rituals, repetitions and ruptures of lives spent in addiction and recovery. Inspired by the visual acuity of renowned contemporary filmmakers such as Michael Haneke, Gus van Sant, Bela Tarr and Chantal Akerman, the work connects and collapses individual recollections in which everyday situations, events and activities are rendered dramatic or abstract and infused with tragedy, pathos and humour. Twelve is directly informed by the personal written and oral testimonies of twelve people in recent recovery from substance misuse, using their creative conceptions and performances within the final works.
Twelve is also accompanied by Lost Weekend, a programme of contemporary and classic films exploring addiction, recovery and obsessive, traumatic behaviours inspired by, or used in the development of Twelve.
Configured as individual yet connected sculptural presences in the gallery space, People Places Propositions provides a rich overview of Manchot’s long-standing interest in portraiture, participation and performance, individual and collective identity, notions of control and the boundaries between documentary and fiction.
Melanie Manchot works with photography, ﬁlm, video and installation as part of a performative and participatory practice. Her projects often explore specific sites and public spaces in order to locate notions of individual and collective identities, investigating particular gestures and forms of movement or activities that become the marker of a group or community. Her work has been widely exhibited in galleries, museums and film festivals internationally including recently at Bloomberg SPACE, fig.2/ICA, Whitechapel Gallery and The Photographers’ Gallery, London; MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art, Krakow; GoMA, Glasgow; and Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Oregon.