Sarcastic rather than ironic. At times controversial and irreverent. Capable of arousing the most varied sensations and reflections. Polysemic and alienating, enveloping and immersive. Difficult to define and to interpret. The only possible alternative: go and see it with your own eyes. We are talking about Manifesto, the multi-screen video installation by Julian Rosefeld at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni on show until April 22nd. Investigated by some of the currents of thought that marked the twentieth century, fascinated by the image and the voice of Cate Blanchett, to reflect on “how to order the chaos of this shapeless infinitely variable entity” that is man. A challenging experience, but still not to be missed.
The Australian-German artist and director, a former architect fed by suggestions from filmmakers such as Buñuel, Godard and Antonioni, creates 13 microfilms, each a little over 10 minutes long. And puts them together, simultaneously. Overlapping voices, moving images that describe different situations. Mosaic tiles that are completed in a unitary construction where the convergent element is always and only Cate Blanchett who gives her face and her voice to all the protagonists of the short films.
Manifesto, created in 2015 and installed everywhere around the world, is a collage of monologues, a weaving of excerpts from the programmatic manifestos of the twentieth century artistic avant-garde. It is a discussion on the role of art and the artist in contemporary society. A reflection on the power and strength of words over time. A language that works by contrasts, where sometimes words clash with the situation in which they are spoken and vice versa.
Written only by men, the texts here will be declaimed exclusively by women. One exception. A single male protagonist, a homelessman who wanders aimlessly and shouts angry situationist phrases. Then, a traditional mother with her conventional family prays before starting the meal. But her prayer is made up of pieces from the Pop Art Manifesto. A broker in a black suit, sitting in front of her PC, declaims phrases from the Futurist Manifesto. And again, a speaker at a funeral recites phrases from the Dada writings. A puppeteer rules improbable puppets, and then a scientist, a worker, a teacher, a choreographer, a punk girl, a journalist, a CEO. A character, a situation, a collage of words that oppose or frame each other, enhancing what is seen in the video.
From Marx and Engels to the Futurists passing through the Dadaists, Surrealists, Situationists and Conceptuals, Manifesto intertwines history of art, cinema and pop culture. It is a fuse that burns to talk about art, to feel the society that speaks through it. A film that is theatrical and conceptual at the same time, made up of engaging places, of the chameleon-like and polymorphic skill of the Australian actress and of the reflection arising from the association between some of the most important Manifestos of the Short Century and contemporary society.
Manifesto, by Julian Rosefeld with Cate Blanchett. Until April 22nd at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome. For info visit the site.