Melanie Manchot


The Hall

This video work observes three different groups of people as they occupy one village community hall, all repurposing it for their respective activities, from line dancing to short lane bowling and band rehearsal. Yet rather than documenting their practices as such, the work is composed of fragmented close-ups and extended portraits of individuals in super slow-motion. In this concentration on gestures the film echoes the intent of earlier documentary filmmakers such as Humphrey Jennings, in films such as Spare Time (1939), to use the formal capacities of the camera to bring to the surface the overlooked magic of activities often deemed ordinary. Here it is the agency of the moving camera which frames and reveals the very gestures which connect these temporary groups and communities as they bring a private intimacy and pleasure to a shared public space. In that sense, the community hall functions as a container and a stage for these varied endeavours, always activated and acted upon in different and specific ways. Filmed in Landulph, a hamlet in the river Tamar region, Cornwall, 2014. (Re-) edited and completed in London lockdown, May 2020.