January 28, 2014

Melanie Manchot at Oriel Davies Gallery, Wales

Melanie Manchot at Oriel Davies Gallery, Wales

Melanie Manchot solo exhibition “Tracer” at Oriel Davies Gallery, Wales.

Exhibition launch: Saturday 01.02.2014 at 3pm-5pm

Melanie Manchot, Tracer, production still (Jak), 2013

Melanie Manchot, winner of the Oriel Davies Open in 2012 for her captivating films Leap after The Great Ecstasy and Dance (All Night) Paris, returns to the Gallery to present stunning new work.

Her new video installation, Tracer, presents a journey that re-frames and choreographs an alternative movement of bodies and cameras through urban and rural landscapes. The film draws attention to how human agency may act upon built environments and questions the authority inherent to architectural form. Through the actions of a group of parkour runners and the structures that support their movements, a reciprocal connection between the individual, the collective and the environment is made.

Filmed in continuous tracking and panning shots the camera observes the parkourists as they investigate each space for its potential to yield particular forms of physical engagement. The use of long, slow sequences and pulled back views intends to remind the viewer of the ever-present position of surveillance within the public sphere. The deliberately detached point of observation and the perceived sense of authority it instils is juxtaposed with close ups, focusing on moments of connection between bodies, both human and architectural. Filmed mostly at dusk and dawn, the work posits a view of the city on the margin of regular time, which the parkourists occupy like a sub-cultural tribe, a pack.

The film’s interest in parkour focuses on how it functions as a non-competitive discipline or practice. Also referred to as the ‘art of displacement’, parkour aims to change the perception of urban space and questions our ability to place and move our bodies in relation to structures that define our environments. Parkour is practiced as a state of mind rather than a set of actions, and is about overcoming and adapting to mental and emotional obstacles as well as physical barriers.

Via the practice of parkour, Tracer opens up potentialities for re-thinking movement and flow in urban space. Working along a predefined route for the duration of the year, the parkour runners actively reject any differentiation between public and private space. As they explore each new territory they are breaking patterns and accepted codes, enacting de Certeau’s distinction between strategy and tactics, between authority and the individual within everyday life.

It is in the relation between the movement of the camera and that of the parkour runners that Tracer aims to present a performativity of space and our own potential choreographies within this.

Text- Oriel Davies Galery

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