London-based artist Melanie Manchot films workers on the slopes of Engelberg as they meticulously prepare each inch of the world’s largest natural ski-jump for athletes taking part in Switzerland’s annual cup competition. Oblivious to freezing weather, they obsessively work 24-hour shifts blasting away excess snow and brushing out grooves to achieve a faultless 123-meter-long in-run where record holders leap heights of 142 meters at gravity defying 91 kilometers-per-hour take-off speeds. Filming portraits at the much-loved event for a multichannel video work titled “LEAP after the Great Ecstasy,” currently showing at Carslaw St Lukes in London, Manchot captured the workers’ warm charm that is in stark contrast to the meditative state of the ski jumpers. “They have to be so totally focused, and on the whole don’t talk to each other. They are in an absolute bubble. At that level of world class ski jumping it is all down to mental control,” says Manchot of the competitors. More than anything the short is a love letter to the workers behind the scenes who make the event happen: “The film is really about them and the dedication they commit towards the preparations.”
“LEAP after The Great Ecstasy” is showing at Carslaw St. Lukes through June 1.