> Engelberg

Melanie Manchot / Engelberg


Artist’s Statement

Light and time have a particular quality in the mountains; there are phenomena such as Alpenglow, caused by the rising or setting sun reflecting millions of crystals in the mountains’ snowfields. Mountains confront us with deep, geological time, stretching beyond our human framework in both directions.

Photography is intimately linked with the shifts in cultural history of the mountains that occurred over the last two hundred years – the notion of the sublime and a desire for new explorations came to replace the sense of horror that people had felt for centuries when looking at those inhospitable towers of rock and snow.

During George Mallory’s first Everest expedition in 1921 a permanent darkroom was set up at Tingri Dzong, a snow-covered base camp high up in the Himalayas. Large photographic equipment was carried for hours up the mountains, registering and mapping what had until then been uncharted. 

The images in this selection come from two series, both set in the high alpine valley of Engelberg, Switzerland, a place that has become an important and ongoing location for the practice.

Leap after The Great Ecstasy consists of a series of photographs and a video installation. Inspired by Werner Herzog’s film ‘The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner’ (1974), and set on the worlds largest natural ski jump, the work observes a range of physical and psychological situations in the quest for a brief moment of perfection, of overcoming human limitations.

The set of night-time photographs evokes a portrait of the location, both in its materiality as well as its meanings in terms of danger and desire.

‘100’ is a book project that explores the conditions and the community of people that allow a mountain to function as a site of leisure.



Melanie Manchot is a London-based artist who works with photography, film and video as a performative and participatory practice. Her projects often explore specific sites and the public spaces in order to locate notions of individual and collective identities.

Her work has been shown nationally and internationally including exhibitions at The Whitechapel Gallery, London; MacVal, Musee d’Art Contemporaire, Paris; The Photographers’ Gallery, London; Galerie m, Bochum, Germany; The Brooklyn Museum, New York; The Australian Museum of Photography, Sydney;  The Courtauld Institute, London;  Museum Folkwang, Essen and as part of Nuit Blanche, Paris.  She is the recipient of many awards including the Oriel Davies Award 2012 and the Great North Run Moving Image Commission 2013.

Leap after the Great Ecstasy will be presented at Carslaw St*Lukes, London, transforming the gallery into a choreographed installation. 20th April – 1 June 2013. The show also launches Manchot’s new book ‘100’. (More details here)

Leap after the Great Ecstasy is also being screened as part of Videonale 14, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany until 7 April. Her work can be seen as part of Walk on at Pitzhanger Manor Gallery, London between 27 March – 5 May 2013 touring to Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art, Sunderland, Mac Birmingham and further venues in 2014.