Melanie Manchot: Celebration (Cyprus Street)

Whitechapel Gallery in London is currently showing Melanie Manchot: Celebration (Cyprus Street).   This project addresses concepts of individual and community identity by revisiting the tradition of public street parties and festivals popular in 20th century London.  Drawing inspiration from these past events captured in newsreels and photographs, Manchot creates and documents her own 21st century street party.

Manchot realized Celebration by working closely with Cyprus Street inhabitants and organizing a party in this Bethnal Green, East London neighborhood.  The artist captured gathered residents as they posed for a group portrait using 35mm film – a medium with historic connection to old newsreels.  Blending photography and film, Manchot used a single tracking shot that pivoted to create a comprehensive, durational group portrait.

Melanie Manchot:  Celebration (Cyprus Street) also includes  photographic portraits of individual Cyprus Street residents.  Manchot’s new film and photographic work is juxtaposed with archival footage selected by the artist of historic street celebrations such as peace parties that took place in 1919 and 1945.  This arrangement allows the gallery visitor to view the changing faces of communities that have coalesced around London’s streets over time.  Most importantly, Manchot’s work reveals the diversifying effects of global migrations on a particular contemporary community.

Celebration (Cyprus Street) is exhibited as a part of the Whitechapel Gallery’s Education Programme.  It was commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella and was funded by Film London (Digital Archive Film Fund) and Arts Council, England.

Melanie Manchot lives and works in London.  She is represented by Goff + Rosenthal in New York.  Manchot earned an MFA in Photography from the Royal College of Art in London and works in photography, film and video.

Melanie Manchot: Celebration (Cyprus Street) will remain at Whitechapel through 14 March 2010.