Multiple Identities

Like the multitude of characters Cate Blanchett plays, Julian Rosefeldt’s Manifesto is many things. The Berlin-based artist first introduced this unique work in 2015, as thirteen screens dangled from the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne, with the two-time Oscar-winning actress taking centre stage in this multi-video work. Inhabiting a baker’s dozen of characters – a funeral orator, a scientist, a choreographer, a sanitation worker and so on – Blanchett recited famous manifestos from art history.

Now comes Rosefeldt’s companion film, an experience every bit as discombobulating, as we hear words first written by Futurists, Dadaists, Situationists and Suprematists now incorporated into the everyday speech of Blanchett’s thirteen ordinary folk. Beginning as Blanchett quotes from Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto, Rosefeldt guides us across some evocative locations in and around Berlin, creating a hypnotic non-narrative experience.

Featuring work by makeup artist Morag Ross and hair designer Massimo Gattabrusi, Blanchett is stunningly transformed – not least as a homeless person raging, King Lear-like, against the world. With the actress playing her characters more as archetypes, the experience is schizophrenic. At one point, dressed as a TV news anchor, she discusses conceptual art with a colleague ‘Cate’ (also Blanchett) via a satellite link-up. Another sees her as a puppeteer controlling a miniature mannequin styled to look exactly like Blanchett.

Whilst the intentions behind these spoken-out-loud artistic call-to-arms may be serious, Rosefeldt isn’t afraid to find humour in these scenarios. In one scene, Blanchett delivers the tenets of the Dogme95 manifesto for purifying filmmaking to a classroom of primary-school age children. “Optical filters are forbidden, alright?” she drawls, to her pupils as they chorus obediently. “Oh, and the film mustn’t contain any superficial action.”

Opening in UK cinemas at the end of the month, Manifesto will be launched in the UK on 15 November at the Tate Modern’s Starr Cinema. To be simultaneously broadcast in cinemas around the country, this night includes an exclusive introductory film, A Conversation with Julian Rosefeldt and Cate Blanchett, the feature itself and a live post-screening Q&A with the director, the film’s editor Bobby Good and arts journalist and author Jessica Lack. A special event for a very special film.

James Mottram

Manifesto: Live From The Tate Modern takes place on 15 November. Manifesto is in cinemas from 24 November. For more details, visit: www.manifestothefilm.com

Credits:
1. Manifesto: Live From The Tate Modern.