Manifesto pays homage to the moving tradition and literary beauty of artist manifestos, ultimately questioning the role of the artist in society today. It draws on the writings of Futurists, Dadaists, Fluxus artists, Suprematists, Situationists, Dogme 95 and other artist groups, and the musings of individual artists, architects, dancers and filmmakers. Passing their ideas [...] through his lens, visual artist Julian Rosefeldt has edited and reassembled thirteen collages of artists’ manifestos. Performing these 'new manifestos' as a contemporary call to action, while inhabiting thirteen different personas, Australian actress Cate Blanchett imbues new dramatic life into both famous and lesser known words in unexpected contexts. Rosefeldt’s work reveals both the performative component and the political significance of these declarations. Exploring the powerful urgency of these historical statements, which were composed with passion and conviction by artists many years ago, Manifesto questions whether the words and sentiments have withstood the passage of time [...] and how the dynamics between politics, art and life have shifted.
"Art history is a derivation of history and we learn from history. Artists, as well as writers, philosophers and scientists, have always been the ones who have dared to formulate thoughts and visions whose consistency had yet to be proven. [...] We seem to be well advised to read artist manifestos as seismographs of their age. And in a time where neo-nationalist, racist and populist tendencies in politics and media threaten again democracies all over the world and challenge us to defend our allegedly achieved values of tolerance and respect, Manifesto becomes a clarion call for action". (Julian Rosefeldt)
"Manifesto is an art film in the truest sense: It is conceptual in nature, nontraditional in form, and perfectly esoteric in appeal. [...] What few could foresee walking into the experience is how an often-contradictory collection of dogma might inspire the artistically open-minded. Whereas a single manifesto rigidly demands creativity within constraints, this maelstrom of competing rules and regulations encourages viewers to take a stand and consider their own aesthetic". (Peter Debruge, Variety)
"If the art world gave out Oscars, Cate Blanchett should win for her tour de force of starring roles in Manifesto". (Roberta Smith, The New York Times)
"A confirmation of both Blanchett’s sheer presence and acumen and Rosefeldt’s shrewdness and intellect, Manifesto is worth every minute – A remarkable exploration of cultural and cinematic tropes and expectations". (The Sydney Morning Herald)
"What matters in Manifesto isn’t what is said but the way it’s said, and Rosefeldt has found a way to shrinkwrap the ambitious spirit and poetry of these texts into humble everyday actions. A manifesto is a schoolteacher, instructing a new generation. A manifesto is a ballet teacher, choreographing bodies rather than minds. A manifesto is a mourner, eulogising not the death of a person but the death of an idea". (Toby Fehily, The Guardian)