Aussie Actress, Cate Blanchett, is presenting a monologue of thirteen manifestos in Julian Rosefeldt’s current show, Manifesto, running until 13 March at ACMI, Federation Square, Melbourne.
Each short film has a different theme, character and exploration of a different manifesto. Rosefeldt has edited and reassembled a collage of artists’ manifestos. The work draws on the work of Dadaists, Fluxus artists, Situtationists and Futurists, and the musings of individual artists, architects, dancers and filmmakers.
I particularly liked the reading of the Dada manifesto intoned by Blanchett, dressed as a middle aged, middle class woman mourner complete with sombre clothing, hat, and makeup standing beside a coffin at a funeral which was about to be lowered for burial. It was an effective juxtaposition of images, the positive yet absurd nature and clarity of the doctrine, against the ostentatiousness of the funeral and the ridiculousness of the burial process.
Exhibitors include Rosslynd Piggot, whose massive white bed imposes an improbable and powerful presence above the space inviting all to dream.
The gorgeous black and white photography of Max Dupain of the 1950’s models portrays images of a graceful and bygone era.
Early collage work by Sidney Nolan and David Noonan are featured. A taxidermied black cat waves goodbye to us at the end of the show. It looks like a stage prop or TV show persona and not a gallery piece. Such is the depth and wonder of this show my eyes were opened to works by artists I knew but didn’t know were part of the Dada and Surrealism movements. Being removed from Europe and the USA these artists created their own version of the movement. It is a brilliant show and many of these influential artists are currently teaching and working in Australia.
I found particularly poignant and whimsical the installations by Judith Wright in the foyer. They are assemblages of found objects of childhood relics eg horses heads, child’s toys and a rowboat. These works depict the loss of her child, and are the artists imaginings of how her child’s life would be if she had lived and grown through childhood.
This exhibition educated and exposed me to a vast area of work by Australian artists working in a wildly inventive field of exploration.