Twelve by Melanie Manchot at Castlefield Gallery: Review

Megan Walsh

How do you capture addiction – and its impact – on film? Artist Melanie Manchot provides a mesmerising insight.

Castlefield Gallery’s latest exhibition, Twelve, intimately explores the stories, repetitions and ruptures of lives lived with addiction. For two years, artist Melanie Manchot worked with twelve people in rehabilitation communities in Liverpool, Oxford and London; the result is a series of multi-channel video installations inspired by their personal experiences.

Haunting and sometimes difficult to watch, Twelve is a true depiction of the fragility of addiction and the turbulent road to recovery. One woman’s heart-rending letter to alcohol leaves a lasting impression, as she tells of how her “best friend”, for whom she still aches for, slowly turned into her “worst enemy”. The personification of her dependency helps to encapsulate how demanding, manipulative and life-ruining addiction is by nature.

Manchot worked with twelve people in rehabilitation communities in Liverpool, Oxford and London

There are sequences shot in continuous takes, like the footage of a pair of hands frantically scrubbing a single kitchen tile, which offer an unswerving eye on the process of recovery. If you don’t know your Austrian movie scenes, though, there’s a good chance you’re going to be left feeling somewhat bemused.

If you’re familiar with Michael Haneke’s The Seventh Continent, for instance, you’ll recognise the carwash scene mimicked in Manchot’s final installation. The characters in the original are disengaged with society; they have forgotten how to feel, how to love and how to care; there’s a similar implication here, with the carwash sequence drawing attention to the isolation and alienation the Manchot’s subjects face. But if – like us – you’ve never heard of the film, the chances are you’ll be left wondering what two men in a carwash have to do with addiction and recovery.

If anything, you could say Twelve lacks a certain sort of closure; in the end, there was a strong feeling of bafflement at the fragmented scenes. And yet it is powerful, playing on your mind long after you’ve left Castlefield Gallery. In Twelve, Manchot has managed to capture the raw emotion, vulnerability and true honesty of the highs and lows of recovery. We just wish we’d done our homework beforehand…

Culture Guides

Theatre in Manchester

Theatre

Check out our updated theatre guide for provocative dance shows, prosecco-popping outdoor performances and site-specific Shakespeare.

Manchester Jazz Festival

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester and the north.

Stuzzi Leeds

Food and Drink

Enjoy spring and summer at some of the best restaurants and bars in Manchester and the North.

Cinema

Ennio Morricone, Charlie Chaplin and 80s vampires. There’s something for everybody on the big screen this month.

Hurvin Anderson, Double Grille, 2008 © Hurvin Anderson. All Rights Reserved, DACS/Artimage 2022

Exhibitions

Whatever the weather, we’ve got tonnes of new art for you to enjoy. This month we bring you lots of choice: from large, all-encompassing displays to smaller and equally as interesting shows to suit all tastes.

May Half Term at RHS Bridgewater

Families

With summer just around the corner, here are some of the best family-friendly events taking place in Manchester and the North in the coming months, both indoors and outdoors, so you can enjoy a fun trip out with your family come rain or shine!

Joelle Taylor. Photo by Roman Manfredi

Literature

Summer unfolds in live literature land with showcases a-go-go, and both established names and emerging talent alike – and there’s plenty of wordy wonderment to immerse yourself in, both in real life as well as online.

Music

From the North’s best festival line-ups to the wildest collaboration you’ll catch on a Manchester stage this year, check out our latest music picks.

Tours and Activities

Discover a new hobby, experience the most deliciously diverse area of Manchester’s city centre and explore the city’s infamous music scene in this month’s Tours and Activities guide.