Cate Blanchett’s visage is everywhere these days. Just this morning, Massive Attack released an elegant yet unsettling video of Blanchett’s face slowly morphing into featureless rock. And as we reported in June, Blanchett stars in Manifesto, Julian Rosefeldt’s film installation currently on view at the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney. The Park Avenue Armory recently announced that Manifesto will make its North American debut this December, bringing a kaleidoscope of Blanchett characterizations to the institution’s massive Wade Thompson Drill Hall, and The Creators Project has the inside scoop:
Manifesto weaves 13 dramatic monologues from more than 50 artistic declarations, provoking timeless questions about the artist’s role in society. Though the writing of manifestos sprang from political movements, 20th century artists widely appropriated the form, starting with Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s “Futurist Manifesto” in 1909. The piece quotes masters like Tristan Tzara, Kazimir Malevich, André Breton, and Sol LeWitt, surveying Dadaism, Surrealism, Minimalism, and many other artistic revolutions of the past 100 years. In a nod to the tradition’s political origins, Manifesto begins with a Prologue, in which Blanchett quotes the first line of Marx and Engels’ “Manifesto of the Communist Party.”
The piece is being substantially reworked for the Armory installation. “We are excited to work with Julian Rosefeldt on adapting his 13-screen cinematic experience for our massive drill hall, one of the few spaces where audiences will be able to experience both the intimacy of individual scenes and the cacophony of the work as a whole like never before,” Rebecca Robertson, the Armory’s President and Executive Producer, tells The Creators Project. “Given the Armory’s history as a home for daring creative projects that challenge convention, we are a natural partner for a work like Manifesto that celebrates artistic ambition in both its form and subject matter.”
Blanchett plays a varied troupe in the piece. Her kaleidoscopic characterizations range from a TV anchorwoman to a funeral orator to a punk to a homeless man. “Cate Blanchett is one of the most versatile actresses of her generation. Her body of work encompasses an astonishing range of vividly realized performances, broadened even further with her work in Manifesto. We're so pleased to have her immense talent unified with Julian's creative vision here at the Armory,” Robertson says.
A powerful, mutable performer, Blanchett’s chameleonic interpretations highlight that manifestos were largely written by men. Delivered by a female performer in contemporary settings, the monologues demonstrate the mutability of language when those words come out of the mouths of the empowered versus the marginalized. Manifesto invites viewers to consider the gendered, social, and political contexts that shape historical artistic disruption.
Rosefeldt has shown extensively in museums and galleries around the world, and his work immerses viewers in lavish, trippy cinematic environments. His piece Deep Gold (2013/2014) features a dapper protagonist who stumbles into an absurd, sexually-charged Prohibition-era nightclub. Clown (2005) is a triptych of jungle vistas showing a lone explorer slowly picking his way through the vegetation. Manifesto debuted in 2015 at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne.
Manifesto will be on view at Park Avenue Armory December 7, 2016 through January 8, 2017. For more information and tickets, click here.