Viewer’s Guide on Julian Rosefeldt’s Manifesto Exhibition


Oscar-winning actor Cate Blanchett in Julian Roselfeldt’s exhibition, Manifesto. Photo Credit: Julian Roselfeldt’s

Visual artist Julian Rosefeldt’s exhibition, “Manifesto”, serves as the ultimate embellishment of learning manifestos written by individual artists, architects, dancers, and filmmakers. Each 13 films are displayed on an HD video screen slightly smaller than one in a movie theater. Oscar-winning actor Cate Blanchett recites bits and pieces of these manifestos as a monologue in the film installations throughout the exhibition. Blanchett captivates viewers through her ability to disguise herself in costumes and dialogue.

These films are based off of 50 different artistic philosophies and sociopolitical manifestos that come from Dadaist, Futurist, Suprematist, Situationist, Fluxus artist, Dogme 95, and other artist groups. The manifesto’s purpose is to call out the role of artists in today’s society. Rosefeldt has assorted and constructed writings from artistic manifestos from Karl Marx, Tristan Tzara, Francis Picabia, Yvonne Rainer and other influencers. Blanchett recites them pertaining to the subject of each film. Blanchett’s performance brings life to these manifestos to bring action to what has become by dressing up as different characters.

The film installations last about 1 to 4 minutes. They continuously loop throughout the exhibition while Blanchett plays various roles such as a homeless man, choreographer, scientist, stock broker, teacher and other characters that tie into the focused manifesto. There is a sense of unison from start to finish of each film in the pitch black exhibition, drawing you to the beaming light of the screens.

For one instance, she is a homeless man based off of Situationist manifesto. She is unrecognizable with a beard, dingy coat and dirt under her fingers as the film starts with a bird’s- eye view following her as she walks from her cardboard home in a desecrated building. As she makes her way to the roof overlooking a run down abandoned industrial German town she says, “This is the place- for the rebellious spirit. The petty and materialistic- be off with you” by Aleksandr Rodchenko. She then reads some of a piece by John Reed Club of New York called Draft Manifesto.

Cate Blanchett in disguise in one of the 13 films in Julian Rosefeldt’s exhibition. Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Moreno/SAC.Media

“We call upon all honest intellectuals, all writers and artists” she continues to shout with bulging eyes. “We call upon them to break with bourgeois ideas which seek to conceal the violence and fraud, the corruption and decay of capitalist society. We urge them to forge a new art that shall be a weapon in the battle for a new and superior world.”

In the choreographer film, she is dressed in a black leotard with heavy makeup and a Russian accent. This film installation is based on the Fluxus movement and she starts off with Yvonne Rainer’s “No Manifesto,” who is an experimental choreographer and filmmaker who wrote a manifesto starting every sentence with the word “No.”
“No to transformations and magic and make-believe. No to the glamour and transcendency of the star image.”

She follows up with George Maciunas who wrote “Fluxus Manifesto” and said, “Promote Non Art Reality to be grasped by all peoples, not only critics, dilettantes and professionals. Promote a revolutionary flood and tide in Art. Promote living art, anti-art.”

Blanchett’s Russian choreographer persona sways her body to follow the rhythm of the group of about 30 girls dressed as crystallized aliens with bulky heads. Her assistant writes down what she is saying as she glares into the crowd of dancers on stage.

Out of the rest of the video installations, one stands out against the rest. The funeral speaker speaks upon the Dadaism manifesto. It could be the gloomy ambiance surrounded by lush green trees upon a rich estate while pallbearers carry the casket to descend into the ground. Blanchett is now dressed as if she is a mourning widow in a black pillbox hat cloaked in a netted veil. The funeral guest follow behind her as they all walk to the burial site.

As she whimpers and chokes up on her words as she recites Tristan Tzara in “Manifesto of Monsieur Antipryine” and said, “Dada is still shit, but from now on we want to shit in different colours to decorate the art zoo with all consular flags. Dada is neither madness, nor wisdom, nor irony.”
She lectures her audience of those at the funeral calling them idiots and telling them they are nothing just like hopes and paradise referring to Francis Picabia’s piece called Dada Cannibalistic Manifesto.

At one point, Blanchett faces the screen in a synchronized fashion with every other film in the exhibition and hypnotically recites the subject of that particular manifesto. Her tone of voice meshes together and turns the heads of viewers as if they have entered a “Twilight Zone” episode. The repeated message throughout the exhibition calls to action modern artists to question their motives eliminating bourgeoisie galleries for recognition and instead, create art that applies to manifestos that came before their time.

Manifesto will be open at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles daily from Tuesday- Sunday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. until January 6, 2019.