Melanie Jame Wolf

Melanie Jame Wolf

Melanie Jame Wolf makes films, installations, writing, and performances about power, flows of capital, and the pervasive phenomenon of ‘show business’.

Melanie Jame Wolf is a choreographer and visual artist who lives in Berlin. She works solo and with friends, making interdisciplinary pieces for gallery, theater and screen spaces. She pursues an ongoing interest in analysing the idea of performance-as-labour in artistic, popular entertainment, and everyday contexts. Her work often focusses on specific performance techniques, for example: impersonation, rehearsal, or stand up – using this strategy as a lens to analyse broader political currents wherein performance is understood as a means of survival and an engine for fluidity of subjectivity. Her work plays along a continuum of the sublime and the ridiculous. Leaning into a hyper-stylised pop aesthetic, she is invested in humour as a strategy for critical possibility, and in working with language in subliminal and surprising ways. These efforts are guided by a continual locating of a queer-feminist ethics for the mode of production of her work.

Wolf has presented work at: HAU – Hebbel am Ufer; Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, nGbK, The National 2019: New Australian Art Biennial, Festival of Live Art Melbourne, VAEFF Film Festival NYC, Arts Santa Monica Barcelona, Schwules Museum, Sophiensaele, Münchner Kammerspiele, Arts House Melbourne; KW Institute of Contemporary Art, Kunstmuseum Basel, Künstlerhaus Bethanien & Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane.


HD Video / 21:00 min / 2021

05:58 min excerpt

Understudies follows a day of rehearsal in which seven performers all inhabit the singular role of The Actress. Across a 13 minute long-take, variations of Nina’s monolog from Chekhov’s The Seagull are rehearsed; atomising the text by means of seriously playful repetition to render it both sublime and ridiculous. Simultaneously, the labour of staging oneself is made visible through a queer-feminist lens which questions who is permitted to inhabit the figure of ‘The Actress’ in dominant culture.

Forewarned, Forearmed, Foreshadowed, Foretold

HD Video / 09:00 min / 2020

01:48 min excerpt

Filmed in three locations in the former GDR – a Berlin watchtower, a Brandenburg hunting ground, and a Weisensee ammunitions factory – this experimental film is an analysis of the differentiation between story and narrative. Understanding modernism and post-modernism not as chronological moments, but instead as political positions, the film explores possibilities for a queer feminist narratology led by ‘naive tricks and superimpositions’. It does this through combining various forms – Merce Cunningham’s DUETS choreography, folkloric murals, tropes of the theatrical tradition, sculpture, and filmmaking itself – through a deconstructive lens led by The Narrator: an intense and shifting presence who delivers their text as an intimate invitation to the viewer. Inspired by Ursula le Guin’s ‘Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction’, The Narrator asks, ‘could we love a story without pursuit?’.