“Gestures of Demarcation, 2001, Six C-Prints
‘Gestures of Demarcation’ are a set of 6 large-scale panoramic colour photographs that use performative strategies to explore physical limits and boundaries of the body. The images record an act, in which various anonymous participants are instructed to extend the skin of the artist’s upper body as far as possible. The gesture hovers between aggression and power on the one hand and a sense of trust and complicity on the other. While clearly initiated by the artist, it is left to each participant to choose how and where to enact this gesture. Hence, agency and responsibility for the act is placed upon the collaborator – and by extension their choice affects the very tension central to the composition. Each of the gestures is set against a backdrop of urban, suburban or rural landscape, enacting a formal relation between figure and environment. ” (source: http://www.melaniemanchot.net/category/gestures-of-demarcation/)
Melanie Manchot is a London-based visual artist who works with photography, film, video and installation as part of a performative and participatory practice. Her projects often explore specific sites and public spaces to locate notions of individual and collective identities. The work investigates particular gestures and forms of movement or activities that become the marker of a group or community.
Early life and education
Born in Witten, Germany in 1966, Manchot studied in New York at New York University (1988–1989) before moving to London to continue her studies at City University and later at the Royal College of Art. From 1992 until 2005 Manchot was a lecturer at various institutions including Goldsmiths College of Art, Central St Martins, London College of Communication and Middlesex University.
Work and exhibitions
Manchot first came to prominence in the mid- to late nineties for an early series of portraits taken entirely of her mother who she photographed naked both in the studio and against a variety of city- and landscapes. 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's practice has increasingly incorporated film and video installation with the frame of reference expanding to include archive film, experimental film and cinematic history. Manchot's methodology is based around participatory processes, often involving groups or communities and creating expanded portraits of people, both their individual and social selfs.
Manchot's work has been widely exhibited in galleries, museums and film festivals internationally. Notable solo exhibitions include Celebration (Cyprus Street), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2010); Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Oregon; Moscow Girls und Andere Geschichten, Haus am Waldsee, Berlin (2006), Melanie Manchot, Cornerhouse, Manchester (2002) and Stories from Russia, The Photographers' Gallery, London (2005).
Manchot has also exhibited extensively in group shows around the world at institutes such as MOTinternational, London; Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow; Moscow Museum of Modern Art; (2009) and the New Forest Pavilion, 52nd International Art Exhibition – Venice Biennale (2007).
Manchot is a trustee of The Photographers' Gallery, London. She is also on the editorial board of numerous art journals. In 2020, Manchot was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society, Bristol.
- Look at You Loving Me, Katja Blomberg, Val Williams and Friedrich Reinhardt, Switzerland, 1998, ISBN 978-3-7245-1039-0
- Love is a Stranger, Klaus Honnef, Janet Hand and Stuart Horodner, Prestel, Germany, 2001, ISBN 3-7913-2532-9
- Moscow Girls, Katja Blomberg and John Slyce, Haus am Waldsee, Germany, 2006
- 100. Engelberg Mountain Railways, Switzerland, 2013
- Musee D'art Contemparain Du Val-De-Marne, France, 2010, ISBN 978-2-916324-58-6
- let+s dance, MAC/VAL
- The Art of Walking, a field guide, David Evans, Black Dog Publishing, UK, 2012, ISBN 978-1-907317-87-3
- Situation(s), MAC/VAL Musee D'art Contemparain Du Val-De-Marne, France, 2012, ISBN 978-2-916324-69-2
- Ageing selves and everyday life in the north of England, Years in the making. Cathrine Degnen, New Ethnographies, Manchester University Press. United Kingdom and USA, 2012, ISBN 978-0-7190-8308-2
- Walk On, From Richard Long to Janet Cardiff, 40 years of Art Walking, Mike Collier and Cynthia Morrison-Bell, Art Editions North. UK, 2013, ISBN 978-1-906832-08-7
- Participa(c)tion. MAC/VAL Musee D'art Contemparain Du Val-De-Marne, France, 2013 ISBN 978-2-916324-76-0
- History of Photography, Volume 37, Number 3. Routeledge, Taylor & Francis, United Kingdom, 2013. ISSN 0308-7298
- Feminist Studies, Volume 40, Number 1, Ashwini Tambe, USA, 2014, ISSN 0046-3663/301.412
- "Contemporary Art Society: Melanie Manchot". Contemporary Art Society. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
- "Whitechapel Gallery, Melanie Manchot: Celebration (Cyprus Street)". Retrieved 22 October 2014.
- "Haus am Waldsee, Berlin". Retrieved 22 October 2014.
- "Cornerhouse". Archived from the original on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
- "Photographers' Gallery". 22 October 2014.
- "Honorary Fellowship". rps.org. Retrieved 13 April 2021.