Art requires truth, not sincerity. Originally set as a video installation in the Australian Centre of the Moving Image with all 13 sections playing on a continuous loop simultaneously; this feature carefully cuts between the vignettes to create a continuous motion throughout the many ideals and perceptions being lectured across the many facets of art. Ranging from Situationism, Futurism, Architecture, Creationism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Pop Art, Fluxus, Dance, Theater, Film, and so on Blanchett monologues adaptations of manifestos from movements and individuals alike in the form of a multitude of contemporary personas ranging from a news anchor to a school teacher to a tattooed punk to a puppeteer.
To the electric chair with Chopin. The productions work simultaneously as a showcase for Blanchett’s fine skills, changing mannerisms and accents to fully embody each character despite the short time we have to spend with them, and a sort of call to action on the nature of art and what’s important today. Each scene is exceptionally shot with some moments being particularly visually striking. The mix of voiceover and at times berating monologuing within strange scenarios gives much of the film an absurdist tone somewhat along the lines of Samuel Beckett’s works such as Not I (1972). The density of the content in the dialogue is easily missed at times due to the distraction of the interesting visuals being displayed, and at other times it’s easy to fall into a sleepy trance simply listening to Blanchett’s voice drone on about this art or that art or art art or none art.
Nothing is original.Overall the film has a lot to say (by the very nature of the manifestos themselves) and portrays many of the messages in a humorous enough package to warrant a chuckle for those who are artists and/or are interested in art theory. To all others, it may seem like a lot of nothing coming out of an impressive enough production, but there are no real pieces of art that take chances that aren’t steeped in mixed critique and understanding.
Manifesto is a beautifully conceptualized and performed art piece that will either provoke in-depth thought and discussion or add up to mundane and wasted time.