The Art’s mosaic

Contemporaneity is a timeless, Warburgian mosaic. People, thoughts, ideas, movements, expressions and manifests coexist in a cellular composition, which may have a shape or not, which may have logic or not. There is no linearity. There is no time. Or, rather, it is everything at all times, everywhere. The cyberpunk with medieval impetus, the plexiglass sculptor of primitive models.

Julian Rosefeldt allowed this contemporaneity to be seen in the movie Manifesto (2015), “a manifesto of manifests”, as put by himself, which gathers some of the most determinant texts in the world of art, cinema, politics and architecture.

Initially developed as a 13-video installation, played simultaneously, all with Cate Blanchett in the leading role, the work now hits the single-screen movie theatres. And if this appears to be restrictive, by forcing an installation exercise to become a flat experience, it is actually successful and, in 90 minutes, and we have access to one of the most impressive projects of experimental cinema. Rosefeldt flattens the mass of art’s time on a single surface, a single body that is embodied in several dispersed voices, gestures, divergent thoughts. After all, modernity, and part of contemporaneity, is precisely that: the flat composition of a full mosaic – the final scene, 13 egos, 13 characters speaking at the same time.

At the same time, this is a critical, lucid essay on the manifesto as a historic piece and artistic artefact, and on their psychological, sociological, – let’s make this clear – political contours. Since the first Communist Manifesto (1848), of Karl Marx, one cannot fail to notice the vaguely egocentric, sometimes tyrannical and totalizing, perspective of manifestos – of a voice that wants to step on the others, silencing them, claiming to be the howling of the superior form of reason. Even the manifesto of Claes Oldenburg, I am for an art… (1961), does not neglect the I, albeit narrowing it to its insignificance. And Yvonne Rainer’s No Manifesto (1965), no matter how much she wants to deny it, it still is. The homeless who cries for situationist dogmas, preaches to the wind, among ruins, before a city which operates beyond any prediction, contextualization, situation. Manifestos sometimes say much more about an individual rather than a collective.

After years embodying Hollywood flicks and working at the Sydney Theatre Company, Cate Blanchett now rehearses a completely different register, experimental as already said, which expands her repertoire and distinguishes her as one of the most daring and polymorphic actresses in the world. Blanchett grabs the viewer between the simple pleasure of seeing and the intelligence and astuteness required to understand it. A cerebral performance that follows metamorphosis after metamorphosis, persona after persona, manifest after manifesto. In Pop Art, she is an American suburb housewife; in Dadaism, she is a widow-matriarch in the beginning stage of grief, at the funeral of her deceased husband; in Fluxus, she is an Eastern dance instructor, precise, attentive, demanding, who leads a bizarre choreography; in Constructivism, she is scientist who closes herself inside an anechoic chamber; in Creationism, she is a drunk punk at war with life… This is a performance-school, an essential lesson and the disclosure of the hybrid and fluid character (gender fluid or even genderless, without gender) of great performances and great artists.

From the spark of inspiration, a catalyst for change, to the ideological exhaustion, Manifesto documents the life and death of every one of these wishes, while marking the end of them all for posterity. The simplistic idealism gives room to the impossibility of real. For some time now, all voices started to coexist in astonishing media and social channels of this rampant modernity. A selfie is a manifesto and vice-versa. In other words., nothing. “Nothing is original. You can steal from anywhere.”

José Rui Pardal Pina (n. 1988) has a master's degree in architecture from I.S.T. in 2012. In 2016 he joined the Postgraduate Course in Art Curation at FCSH-UNL and began to collaborate in the Umbigo magazine. Curator of Dialogues (2018-), an editorial project that draws a bridge between artists and museums or scientific and cultural institutions with no connection to contemporary art.

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