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Image of Melanie Manchot, Out of Bounds, 2016

Jarman Award 2017 shortlist interviews: Melanie Manchot

Date posted: 05.10.2017

In this week's Jarman Award interview, we catch up with shortlisted artist Melanie Manchot to discuss her practice spanning photography and moving image that explores ideas around portraiture as well as how a mountain is ‘produced’ for our pleasure.

Watch the full interview

Melanie Manchot is a London-based visual artist working across photography, moving image and installation. 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.

Melanie came to moving image from photography. She graduated from the Royal College of Art and continued making photographic work for a decade after graduation, but after 2005 her practice became exclusively moving image, ranging from 8mm, 16mm and 35mm film to video. The shift to moving image was not so much a definite decision as a natural progression to creating works that required duration and sound. These elements beyond the photographic image enabled her ideas to grow.

Derek Jarman was hugely influential on Melanie, particularly in the very early stages of her career. She was fortunate to meet him in person when she was a student and also saw Blue at a screening at which he was present. Melanie considers Jarman a true artist whose practice was both his work and his life, including his garden, friendships, and generosity towards other people.

Recent works

Melanie’s work has always had a strong focus on ideas around portraiture and its function within contemporary art. One of the recent works exploring these ideas is 11/18 (2015), where Melanie filmed her daughter from the ages 11 to 18, very much an analogy to Andy Warhol’s Screen Test. Each of the portraits is one minute long and was filmed against a plain background at exactly the same time each month. The work charts the process of the portrayed daughter growing from a young girl to an adult woman. 11/18 aims to question whether the process of filming can reveal anything fundamental about this key stage of life.

Melanie has also worked with ideas around events and production. These works often balance observational material with constructed events. By events, Melanie means groups of people and individuals within these groups that define themselves through particular activities. Melanie’s recent piece Out of Bounds (2016) looks at production, and specifically how a mountain is ‘produced’ for us to come and enjoy it. Most people who participate in activities in the mountains have no idea of the backstage labour necessary to make them safe and ready for pleasure and adventure.


Melanie will be speaking at FACT, Liverpool, on Wednesday 11 October, at Nottingham Contemporary on Tuesday 31 October and at Firstsite, Colchester, on Wednesday 1 November as part of the Jarman Award Tour.

Watch the full interview

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