The Choirs

During her residency in 2016 and 2017, Melanie Manchot engaged with post doc researchers from diverse disciplines through a series of seminars she termed 'cross talks'. These discussions explored the future of friendship, shelter and community in the context of the North West Cambridge Development and in relation to current socio-political climates. Each year at North West Cambridge Development, artists are appointed to work in collaboration with different University of Cambridge departments relevant to the current phase of the development.

The cross talks were observed by a group of translators from different practices including slam poetry, drama, clowning and paganism. These four translators in turn devised four scores which were be performed by a clown choir, a drama choir, a rap choir and a pagan choir. Each of these choirs was formed specifically for this project and they consisted of local people, new residents of North West Cambridge, people from the university and the wider community.

In January 2018, the four choirs came together to perform a unique event devised in response to these inter-disciplinary exchanges. Each choir performed their individual score and the performance culminated with all four joining together, a swelling of voices and gestures, in a brief moment of cacophony mixing singing, spoken word and rhythm.

The drama choir featured a cast of actors performing a short play that looked at the tradition of the Greek Chorus. The text was written by Stav Poleg, a young Cambridge based author and poet and one of the four translators. The choir was conducted by Helen Strange.

The clown choir presented a newly devised piece of physical theatre that explored the notion of community as being altruistic at its core. Amanda Kelleher led her choir of newly minted clowns in a process of call and response, akin to migrating birds.

The rap choir's score was based on a text by a local slam poet, which he devised while listening to the cross talks. Performed by a choir of 20 voices and one rapper this new composition was written by Andrea Cockerton who also heads up this group.

Local pagan Anu Ann devised a chant specifically for the earth that sits beneath the concert hall, paying particular attention to the materials used in the construction of the building. She performed with a group of local pagans to address the four elements in the context of how a new development shifts earth and water, affects the air and uses fire/energy to do so.


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Melanie Manchot

Melanie Manchot is a London based visual artist who works with photography, film and video as a performative and participatory practice. Her projects often explore specific sites, public spaces or particular communities in order to locate notions of individual and collective identities. The mutability of subjectivity as well as the agency of the camera in creating a set of relations are key interests within Manchot's on-going enquiry into personhood and its representations.



Office of Postdoctoral Affairs

Melanie Manchot

July 2016 to June 2017
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