Philosophy has never been my strong suit. I struggle at synthesizing disparate ideas and apply them to everyday life. As the saying goes, “it is all Greek to me.” That is not to say that I don’t appreciate philosophy. In fact, I do, and as it happens, so does my son who is wading through Philosophy 101 in his Freshman year at college. He is one of the lucky ones who is energized by philosophy. It takes intellectual fortitude and curiosity to wade through manifestos by the likes of Kant, Marx, and Nietzsche. Me, I need context, a bridge into the work.
“Manifesto” by German artist Julian Rosefeldt may very well be that bridge. Created in Australia and beautifully executed by Cate Blanchett it demonstrates how philosophy can influence an artist’s work. After meeting Blanchette in Berlin over 2 years ago, Rosenfeldt created a video montage of 13 different characters. These characters include a homeless person, an investment banker, a punk musician, a 1950’s housewife and more. Each character delivers an energetic manifesto taken from artists of the early 20th century through to the 1960’s and 1970’s. For example, Rosenfeldt dedicates one of the 13 manifestos to futurism and that movement’s fascination with speed and technology through Cate Blanchett’s performance of a female stock broker. Changing social and political times lead artists, such as American experimental architect Lebbeus Woods, to write their own manifestos. Rosefeldt has dissected a select group of works and reassembled them for Blanchett to perform.
Completed in twelve “crazy” days, “Manifesto is a homage to the beauty of artists’ manifestos – a manifesto of manifestos” Rosefeldt said. Like the prick of a finger, Rosefeldt ‘s “Manifesto” is designed to waken our senses. It is performed in and out of context and meant to energize the audience while reinvigorating philosophical investigation through an artist’s lens. It sounds like I need to make a trip to New York City and visit the Park Avenue Armory show on December 7th. A Cate Blanchett performance may be just what I need to resuscitate my interest in manifestos.