en | dt

Melanie Manchot

Celebration, 2010
Celebration (Cyprus Street)
Based on the rich history of public street celebrations in the UK and in London’s East End specifically, ‘Celebrations’ will be a new 16mm film using a whole East London residential street as its setting and involving its entire population as collaborators.
My particular interest lies in investigating to what extent contemporary urban communities, characterised by an increasingly complex socio-cultural crossover within its population, can use ritual and ceremony to create a sense of place and identity. In this context, this project seeks to question how cities can still function as community sites for the development of collective memory and shared experience.

The film will consist of a long continuous tracking shot that starts as the camera enters one end of an East London street and finishes as it turns to leave the street at the other. Somewhere in the middle of this shot will be a static moment - a still group portrait that solidifies out of the melee.
Situated between the modes of documentary and construction, the piece combines the languages of newsreel footage and documentary photography with cinematic filmmaking, with particular reference to archive and historic documentations within both media. A major inspiration comes from 1930s newsreel footage and historic photography reporting on such public events as the East London street celebrations around the Royal Jubilee. It refers to such programmes as ‘Real Lives’ - a documentary looking at the earliest news and documentary films and investigating to which extent they were ‘real’ or in fact staged.

The film’s aesthetic is informed by filmic references, such as Chantal Akerman’s D’Est, M. Antonioni’s Red Desert. The film will introduce a new approach within my performative approach to portraiture, where moments of interaction and intervention (often with strangers) are mediated through the camera. It will further articulate my respective relation to and use of moving and still imagery in my practice.
This project also specifically continues my interest in group portraiture and aims to articulate that moment of participation and confrontation between artist, camera and subjects, a moment of tension and brief stasis, when the composition reaches conclusion. The film will therefore also become a document of the making of a group portrait. It places me as the artist in a role of mediator or facilitator who provides a stage to be filled by local people within the vehicle of the work.

The Times about Celebration

Film and Video Umbrella about Celebration
Cyprus street party / Group portrait Cyprus Street

Pam / Nalima (The Reisidents)
Les / Jackie (The Residents)
Marianne / Tom (The Residents)