It's only been four months since Julian Rosefeldt exhibited his 13-channel film, Manifesto, at the Park Avenue Armory, where Cate Blanchett raved with cold lucidity recitations of parts of 50-some manifestos, both crucial and lost to art history. The installation has been adapted to fit the silver screen, and will screen at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 26, following its showing at Sundance in January.
In the German artist's installation, Blanchett plays 12 characters (plus one voice-over) in 12 vignettes shot by cinematographer Christoph Krauss, each of which is played concurrently on separate screens. At turns, Blanchett plays a stock-broker, a widow, a teacher, a busker, a scientist and more, delivering monologues composed of rhetorical torrents penned by writers and artists of the last century. Writings by Marx and Engels ("All that is solid melts into air"), Tristan Tzara ("To put out a manifesto you must want: ABC to fulminate against 1,2,3"), Jim Jarmush ("Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination"), Kazimir Malevich ("Abandon love, abandon aestheticism, abandon the baggage of wisdom"), and other young idealists—mostly men—have been cut up and reshaped into soliloquies that crescendo into a point where Blanchett's face fills each screen, barking aesthetic demands.
For Tribeca, the individual films will be spliced together to make one 94-minute feature able to be screened in more typical venues, which might lose some of the punch. That said, on a single screen, Blanchett won't have to compete against herself, and can shine thirteen times over in ways her fans have always known she can.
"If the art world gave out Oscars, Cate Blanchett should win for her tour de force," Roberta Smith wrote of Manifesto in December. Well they don't, but now she can.