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“In this period of change, the role of the artist can only be that of the revolutionary.”
Manifesto is the flagship in our Spotlight on Troublemakers. It is the good ship trouble that carries a pirate crew of muckrakers, disturbers of the peace, radicals, revolutionaries, and, of course, cinéastes, embodied in the words of this century’s great cultural and political manifestos. Rabid dissent and gonzo defiance are given voice by actress Cate Blanchett in the guise of a baker’s dozen of characters. A frizzy-haired school teacher leading her class in a recitation of Dogme 95, or a turbaned East German choreographer directing a dance project that resembles a musical version of Ridley Scott’s film Alien whilst reciting Fluxus aphorisms. Manifesto captures the pure power of ideas, given wild flight in language that soars and screams.
The project, originally conceived as a multi-screen video installation, was reconstituted as a documentary by German artist Julian Rosefeldt. From the Futurists to the Dadaists, Pop Art in a punch up with Marxism — it is a whirling confetti of ideas and images, weirdly thrilling, and often very funny. Make no mistake, an absurdist streak runs through Manifesto, a capering anarchic spirit that aims to upend the applecart and turn everything on its head.
In the spirit of Chris Marker, who also saw humour in the movements of history and culture, Manifesto takes the most grandiose, bombastic screeds and injects them with prankish new life. The result is that we hear them anew, as a howl for change, for new ideas, and brave new worlds.
Or, in other words: “Abandon love, abandon aestheticism, abandon the baggage of wisdom...Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination... Tomorrow we begin together the construction of a new city.”
Manifesto is our Closing Gala Screening for DOXA 2017, and a more fitting end, it is difficult to envision. -DW