- James Mottram
- 13 November 2017
Cate Blanchett is everywhere as Julian Rosefeldt's art installation makes the leap to the big screen
Originally a multi-video art installation, German artist Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto has been adapted for cinemas as a full-length film. First displayed in 2015, in the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne, the project saw its star Cate Blanchett inhabiting 13 different characters on screens suspended from the ceiling as she simultaneously recited the doctrines of various artistic and political movements.
Rosefeldt's cinematic version replays the readings in a linear format, offering a wider platform for Blanchett's baker's dozen of archetypes, superbly styled by makeup artist Morag Ross and hair designer Massimo Gattabrusi. It's as defiantly arthouse an idea as you're likely to encounter; playful and provocative, it comes with the added bonus of watching a two-time Oscar-winner push herself into such unusual terrain.
Beginning with Blanchett's voiceover quoting from Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto, the characters range from a bag lady raging against the world, to a puppeteer manipulating a doll (that looks like a mini Blanchett), to a news anchor conversing via satellite link-up with a reporter (also Blanchett) in a particularly surreal conversation. Just as distinct are the Berlin locations.
Speaking words written by Futurists, Dadaists, Situationists, Suprematists and so on, Blanchett's delivery incorporates these manifestos into everyday speech, peppering them with humour and pathos. Particularly comic is her turn as a primary school teacher dictating a lesson that comprises the tenets of Dogme 95, alongside other cinematic calls to arms. 'Optical filters are forbidden, alright?' she drawls, to her obliging pupils.
Patience is certainly required for this very unconventional experience. As one sequence morphs into the next, the overall effect is just as fluid, ranging from banal and boring to hypnotic and spellbinding. What does it all mean? That art is for the people? Maybe. But by shining a spotlight on some of the most radical thinkers in history, it ultimately feels like something to be celebrated.
Screening as part of a live event at the Tate Modern on Wed 15 Nov. Selected release from Fri 24 Nov.