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Melanie Manchot, Security

Goff + Rosenthal
537 West 23rd Street, 212-675-0461
February 3 - March 10, 2007
Reception: Saturday, February 3, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

”...His skin would seem to burst over such a mass of muscle. Buried in his clumsy movements is that sense of sadness of an over bred species, caught in his own monstrous body. He is a paradoxical creature: built to please, to be looked at, yet how can such an absurd body engage in sex, other than with itself…...” Translated from feuilleton of Sueddeutsche Zeitung, essay on Ibiza titled “Around the clock, always on the edge” by Dirk Peitz.

Filmed outside Ibiza’s largest nightclubs, Security consists of a single screen projection and 7 small flat screen monitors. Each monitor shows a nightclub bouncer standing in front of the entrance to the nightclub where they work. They are filmed in daylight but wearing the clothes they wear as bouncers and security guards at the clubs. The men are large, tanned, confident and packed with muscle. Their sense of authority is unquestioned by them.

Manchot was fascinated by the power these men hold both as gatekeepers to every night’s “good time” at the hedonistic Spanish resort and also as symbols of male virility and power itself. In an effort to question and explore her perceptions of these men and what they represent and also to attempt to understand, in some way, how they view themselves, Manchot invited each bouncer to strip for her camera. They were told to take as much time as they like and disrobe in any way they chose until completely naked. They were then instructed to stand and pose for as long as they wished and, when finished, get dressed.

Throughout the process the camera remains static, recording the physical, emotional and psychological transformations that these men undergo. Each man relates and performs differently. In almost every case, however, the fa├žade of pumped up body, virility, and confidence begins to crack—some more than in others. One can almost see these men question their self worth and personal relationship to their own bodies as they disrobe. Sometimes they lose resolve entirely: the imposing centurion transformed into a shy boy in a few moments. Says Manchot: “These men give enormous attention to cultivating and sculpting their bodies yet it is through the individuality of their gestures and stance during the simple act of undressing that the portrait starts to happen.”

The soundtrack of the videos consists simply of the ambient sounds of undressing, the clanking of shoes, zippers opening and closing, the rustling of clothes against skin and the occasional unexpected clattering of objects falling out of pockets. There is no dialogue between artist and subject—in fact, Manchot absences herself from the actual camerawork entirely.
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