Leap After The Great Ecstasy

An Artistic Video Looks at the Labor Behind a Monumental Swiss Ski Jump

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. 

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    Karl Lagerfeld: Zillions

    Malcolm Venville's Crusade to Pose a Single Question to the Illustrious Designer at His Alpine Exhibition

    There aren’t many people who you’d endure several flights, two long train journeys, exceedingly early wake-up calls and a soggy McDonald’s hamburger dinner to spend one minute with—but that’s how powerful the pull of fashion legend Karl Lagerfeld can be. And that pilgrimage is exactly what director Malcolm Venville undertook for a brief encounter with the Chanel and Fendi designer, artist, photographer and one-man cultural phenomenon in St. Moritz in February, where the polymath was revealing an exhibition at Galerie Gmurzynska. The series featured Lagerfeld’s new set of fire etchings on glass—based on portraits of his muses such as Theophilus London, Freja Beha Erichsen and Aymeline Valade—and evolved the Kaiser’s extraordinary photographic legacy, which has yielded not only a multitude of ad campaigns, but also groundbreaking books like The Metamorphosis of an American and The Beauty of Violence, both of which distilled the model-to-muse relationship, focusing respectively on male faces Brad Koenig and Baptiste Giabiconi. Navigating the alpine VIP frenzy, filmmaker Venville came straight up against the unrealistic expectations of the Kaiser’s media and creative schedule. Hence he delivered just one potent question, appealing to Lagerfeld’s savoir faire. “To borrow from Hamlet,” says Venville, “brevity is the soul of wit, and he couldn’t be more interesting in that respect.” The director would know, having helmed the films 44 Inch Chest starring John Hurt and Ray Winstone and Henry’s Crime with Keanu Reeves. “I felt there was a lot of power in his answer,” he says of Lagerfeld. “It’s all about the artistic process being intuitive and spontaneous.”  

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    Gymnast: In Motion

    Somersaulting Trampolinists Rise and Fall in Director Steve Harries' Reflective Short

    The elegant movements and athletic prowess of five twirling trampolinists are captured in photographer Steve Harries’ new short film, ahead of this weekend’s trampolining World Cup Series event at China’s Taiyuan City. Inspired by German photographer Andreas Gursky, American minimalist Robert Morris’s Mirrored Cubes, and the typography and graphics of British vorticist magazine BLAST, Harries constructed a floating set to capture the multi-perspectival reflections of the bouncing athletes. Performing up to 7.5 meters in the air—shot from a tall camera tower beneath a rig suspending the set, mirrors and lights from the ceiling—professional gymnasts Nathan Bailey, Kat Driscoll, Bryony Page, Emma Smith and Steven Williams’s bodies were broken up into fragmented forms and motions by a bank of six mirrors. “It was always really important that these mirrors existed somewhere that was ambiguous, but also that you could see they were in a space,” explains Harries. “It was a set suspended. We could control the way in which the mirrors were angled to abstract the movement as the athletes passed through them.”


    Number of athletes

    Height of camera tower
    Five meters.

    Height of mirrors
    Six meters.

    Height of the studio
    Ten meters.

    Distance from mirrors to camera
    Twelve meters.

    Distance from athlete to mirrors
    4.5 meters.

    Designers used
    Adidas, Calvin Klein Collection, Raf Simons, Sunspel, Wolford, Y3.

    Bespoke clothes made for the shoot
    Six gymnast leggings, six gymnast shoes, and 12 sports vests designed by stylist John McCarty with patterns made by Fiona Ransom.

    Hair products used
    Five elastic bands, 25 hairpins, Bumble and Bumble wax.


    Camera used
    Arri Alexa.

    Stills film
    Kodak Portra.

    Soundtrack on set
    The trampolines.

    Average number of bounces, per athlete per take

    See the magic behind the scenes at Steve Harries' gymnastic shoot in our Facebook-only video, here.

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