Babette Mangolte

Lives and works in New York City

French-American artist Babette Mangolte is an experimental filmmaker also known for her photography of dance, theater and performance work. Mangolte was born and raised in France where she studied cinematography at the prestigeous “L’Ecole Nationale de la Photographie et de la Cinematographie”  as one of the first two women admitted in the 1960s. Encouraged by legendary film theorist and art critic Annette Michelson, Mangolte moved to New York City in late October 1970 being at first fascinated by experimental theater and films and discovering dance later with her meeting with Yvonne Rainer in late 1971 engineered by Annette Michelson. In 1973, Mangolte experimented with narrative forms in her first features What Maisie Knew (1975), The Camera: Je, La Camera: I (1977). In the following decades she continued with conceptual documentaries in e.g. Sky in Location (1982) and Les Modèles de Pickpocket (2003). A recent conceptual film project Edward Krasiński’s Studio was shot in Warsaw in 2011 and premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2013.

As a cinematographer, director and photographer Mangolte has been a central protagonist of New York‘s 1970s minimal dance, experimental theatre and performance art scene. Since the beginning of her practice Babette Mangolte did groundbreaking camera work. Her collaborations with e.g. director Chantal Akerman in Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) and with performance artist Yvonne Rainer for her films Lives of Performers (1972) and Film About a Woman Who….(1973) are legendary.

In 1978 Mangolte directed the legendary dance performance film Watermotor (1978) shooting the solo of minimal dancer Trisha Brown with a special dramatization of filmic time. In her photographic work of the 70s Mangolte focused on an intellectually and artistically invested style of performance documentation, interacting through her still camera with such disitnct artists as Richard Foreman, Robert Whitman, Stuart Sherman, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Morris, Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs and Sylvia Palacios Whitman, to mention a few. The collaborative spirit of the time is further reflected in the incident that Yvonne Rainer, Philip Glass and other personalities of the Soho scene appeared as actors in Mangolte’s own debut What Maisie Knew.

Babette Mangolte’s work has widely been contextualized within the framework of institutional exhibitions, presenting New York’s dance, performance, and theatre scene, and it is precisely her “anthological” photographs that enabled generations to familiarize themselves with the work of the mentioned artists. Her film work has been presented in numerous international film festivals and in museums’ film programs, e.g. at the Whitney Museum of American Art and Anthology Film Archives. Her films are in international public collections such as The Museum of Modern Art, Centre Pompidou and Reina Sofia. A conceptual reconstruction of her installation How to Look – shown originally at PS1 in 1978 – was presented prominently at the Whitney Biennial in 2010 and entered the collection of the Tate, London. Retrospective exhibitions are held in 2013 at VOX – Contemporary Image Centre, Montreal, Canada and at Inhotim, Brazil. In the same year a substantial insight into Mangolte’s involvement with the New York performance art scene of the 70s is on view in the Whitney Museum exhibition Rituals Of Rented Island: Object Theater, Loft Performance, And The New Psychodrama Manhattan, 1970-1980.




Babette Mangolte, Inhotim, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, curated by Rodrigo Moura

Rituals Of Rented Island: Object Theater, Loft Performance, And The New Psychodrama Manhattan, 1970-1980, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, curated by Jay Sanders

Babette Mangolte: An Exhibition and A Film Retrospective, VOX – Contemporary Image Centre, Montreal, Canada, curated by Barbara Clausen


Yvonne Rainer, Space, Body, Movement, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria


Accomplices. The Photographer and the Artist around 1970, Museum of Modern Art Warsaw, curated by Maria Matuszkiewicz

Danse sa vie, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France, curated by Christine Macel

While Bodies Get Mirrored. An Exhibition about Movement, Formalism and Space, Migros Museum, Zurich, curated by Rafael Gygax


Film installation Babette Mangolte: How to Look Whitney Biennial 2010, Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, curated by Francesco Bonami

Mixed Use, Manhattan, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain, curated by Lynn Cooke and Douglas Crimp


Live Art on Camera, John Hansard Gallery, Southampton, UK, Curator Alice Maude-Roxby

Un teatre sense teatre, Museu d’Art Contemporari de Barcelona (toured to Museu Berardo, Lisboa, Portugal)

Film installation Babette Mangolte: Presence at the Berlin Biennale 2008, curated by Adam Szymczyk and Elena Filipovic


2010 PresenceMOVEMENTS and STILLS; 2009 Installation Rushes (1978) at Art Cologne booth of BROADWAY 1602; 2008 Collision; 2007 Spaces to see, Stories to tell


Tate (London), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Museum of Modern Art (NY), Museum Ludwig (Cologne), Reina Sofia (Madrid), MACBA (Barcelona), Migros Museum (Zurich), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (Turin)

Further information on the artist’s website: