Manifesto is a MUST SEE for any artist no matter their medium. Walking throughout the installation, you’re reintroduced to every major art movement of the last century, through thirteen different and provocative characters influenced by the manifestos of numerous art forms. All this brought to vivid unforgettable life by the incomparable Cate Blanchett.
The whole experience left me with such a feeling of empowerment and a more encompassing grasp on many art movements I was already familiar with. In being a visual learner, seeing each art manifesto presented in such cinematically distinct imagery added rich layers to its understanding, upping the impact of the ideologies at the core of each artistic movement. And the words. The words! Writer and director Julian Rosefeldt brought every movement to the screen through incredibly complex dialogue that challenged every conception of art I had and how art relates to each movement.
The imagery brought to each mini film was so specifically individual, yet succinct with all the other films of the installation. You might think that simply watching each video in the leisure of your own home in the future would be a fine way to view this piece should it ever be released. And you would be wrong, completely and utterly wrong. This performance art, though presented through film, is undeniably alive in the presence it creates. The energy produced by the space at the Park Avenue Armory is indescribable.
Upon walking into the enormous Wade Thompson Drill Hall, you are shown all thirteen screens scattered across the room hung as if hovering a few feet above the ground. The entire space makes the installation feel like one huge body of work. As you watch the first scene unfold, the true connectivity of all the different videos comes to light when at one distinct moment every character Cate is portraying faces camera directly, delivering a poignant soliloquy on art. At every scene as you go along, when this moment of artistic connectivity between all forms of art comes, you feel the atmosphere change in the room; it’s overcoming and emotionally stirring.
I could easily go on fawning over this installation but it is simply something you need to see for yourself. If you’re in New York this busy holiday season, carve out a couple hours to get over to the Upper East Side and take in the experience for yourself. I will leave you with a few final details, directly from the Park Avenue Armory.
“Artist and filmmaker Julian Rosefeldt has made a name for himself not only for his photography, but also for his elaborately staged films that investigate the language and conventions of cinema as an allegory for societal and individual behaviors. He continues this exploration with the film installation Manifesto, a collage of artistic declarations from the past century reinterpreted as poetic monologues to provoke timeless questions about the gendered, social, and political contexts that shape the artist’s role in society.” – Park Avenue Armory
“These angry, youthful, and powerful texts are brought to life in a tour-de-force of acting by Academy Award-winner Cate Blanchett, who creates a kaleidoscopic series of different characterizations ranging from a TV anchorwoman to a corporate CEO to a homeless man. Presented simultaneously on massive screens, the 13 scenes draw on more than 50 manifestos by artists, architects, choreographers, and filmmakers at early points in their career, woven together into dramatic soliloquies that highlight specific movements or schools of thought. Connecting these famous texts to the humanity of everyday characters and actions, this highly theatrical cinematic installation makes its highly-anticipated North American premiere in an immersive reimagining that takes full advantage of the soaring Wade Thompson Drill Hall to allow viewers to experience both the intimacy of individual scenes and the cacophony of the work as a whole like never before. The resulting polyphonic plea for aesthetic change boldly recaptures the defiant spirit of its source material for a contemporary audience.” – Park Avenue Armory
This was also my first visit to the Park Avenue Armory and was I ever impressed! The architecture of the building and the restorations it has surely undergone gives much for your eyes to appreciate. You can relax in one of the multiple reading rooms, grab a coffee, or hit the gift shop. Take the time to experience all that PAA has to offer!
If you’ve been or are planning to go, hit me up with your comments! I’d love to hear about your experience or help you plan for your visit!
“Julian Rosefeldt: Manifesto” is on view at the Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Avenue, December 7, 2016–January 8, 2017.