Exhibition opening: 1st October 2019, 7 p.m.
Taming Untamed Nature
The landscape and tourist infrastructure of winter sports destinations have been among the subjects of Melanie Manchot’s work for the past ten years. At the invitation of the INN SITU series, she spent several weeks last winter in the municipality of Gaschurn, located 1,000 metres up in Vorarlberg’s Silvretta Montafon ski area.
The resulting photographs and videos created for this exhibition focus on the behind-the-scenes work in mountain resorts – the hidden skill sets, activities and routines required to make the winter landscape accessible. For Manchot, this meant rising long before dawn to observe maintenance work on snowmaking machines, snow groomers heading off and cable cars being checked.
Her work raises urgent questions regarding our perspectives on nature, yet she steers clear of didactic statements or polemic positioning. The fascination with primordial natural spaces and the technical organisation required to render them accessible. The long-term work group ‘Mountainworks’ examines the relationship between people and the environment and questions how we deal with the responsibility for and the maintenance of environments that we temporarily manage
Behind the scenes of the sublime
As well as sublime shots of sweeping winter landscapes and moody images of idyllically lit villages beneath the alpine night sky, Manchot has taken photographs of huge heaps of deposited snow, and shot videos of constantly repeated hand movement patterns on control panels or of workers shovelling and sweeping.
The additional layer to her works is that regardless of the subject matter, they always have an independent layer best described as formal or graphic. Colour, proportion, lines, expanses – it is the manner in which she engages with the media of film and photography that opens up avenues for fully comprehending her work. Documentation and fiction combine with each other, discourse and form find multi-layered expression.
Snowdance – region, image, music
One of the objectives of the INN SITU series is to provide a forum for photographers to engage closely with the region and to collaborate with a Tyrol or Vorarlberg composer, who has been invited by us. Manchot’s work Snowdance typifies the artistic approach behind that format. All of the works in the exhibition are the outcome of personal encounters and of the willingness of the ski area’s employees to open up and become involved with the work of the London-based artist.
»Snowdance« is a choreography for eight snow groomers. Manchot used sketches to show the drivers which moves to perform, so that by interpreting her “open score” they actively collaborated in the work. The images of the machines dancing by night were captured using a drone. The soundtrack for this unique video work was written by Tyrolean composer and zither virtuoso Christof Dienz, who was also commissioned to stage the INN SITU concert inspired by Manchot’s work.
It is precisely this kind of interplay of artistic competencies in and on behalf of a region that the INN SITU projects seek to achieve: an outsider’s perspective, direct contact and interaction with local people, everyday cultures and local landscapes and spaces. The outcomes are new artistic works which draw on the region for inspiration, a sense of connectedness and relevance.
Born in Witten (Germany), Melanie Manchot studied at NYU and the Royal College of Art, London. She works with photography, film, video and sound. Participatory and collaborative strategies are central elements of her artistic practice, which often invokes the interface between documentary and staged forms. Solo exhibitions: inter alia the MAC VAL Museum of Contemporary Art in Paris, Whitechapel Gallery, London, and most recently Kunsthaus Pasquart in Biel. Works by Manchot are held in numerous international collections. She lives and works in London.