Can art change the world?


Julian Rosefeldt, Cate Blanchett

You are looking at a performance from our archive

There is a growing cry for change throughout society. At one time manifestos were considered the more popular way to present new ideas. Julian Rosefeldt shows that they are still essential in this day and age. In his film installation Manifesto, scintillating, angry and remarkably modern sounding texts from famous artist manifestos are the basis of thirteen short films screened in parallel – with texts by André Breton, Kazimir Malevich, Sol LeWitt and Jim Jarmusch, amongst others. They are each individually embodied by the Australian actress Cate Blanchett, who brings out the enormous vitality in these works. Rosefeldt and Blanchett create fascinating worlds, which put the texts in an unexpectedly contemporary context.

List of scenes
Manifestoteksten (Engels)

Background information

'I have used the title Manifesto as a clear statement that the focus in this work is above all on texts, whether by visual artists, filmmakers, writers, performers or architects – and on the poetry of these texts. Manifesto is an homage to the beauty of artists' manifestos –  

a manifesto of manifestos,' the German filmmaker Julian Rosefeldt explains. 

Manifesto marks Rosefeldt's return to the Holland Festival, following the showing of his film for Rene Jacob’s performance of Haydn's Die Schöpfung in 2016. This new work is a film installation. In a large room, thirteen films are shown simultaneously. The films are based on the writings of Futurists, Dadaists, Fluxus artists, Suprematists, Situationists, members of Dogma 95 and members of other art movements, as well as on the thoughts and writings of individual artists, architects, dancers and filmmakers. The ideas of Claes Oldenburg, Yvonne Rainer, Kazimir Malevich, André Breton, Sturtevant, Sol LeWitt and Jim Jarmusch and more are quoted. Rosefeldt used their manifestos to produce thirteen different collages, which come to life in front of his lens. Manifesto implicitly asks what the artist's role is in contemporary society: all texts deal with breaking boundaries and restrictions – be they territorial, intellectual or artistic – and with disseminating new ideas. 

These manifestos are represented by thirteen different characters, each performed by the Australian actress Cate Blanchett. Her characters include a teacher, puppeteer, newsreader, factory worker, choreographer and homeless person. 

Rosefeldt is convinced that many of the manifestos are still visionary. '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’re well advised, therefore, to read artist manifestos as seismographs of our age.' 



Julian Rosefeldt (1965) studied architecture in his home town of Munich and later in Barcelona. After graduating in 1994, he worked with fellow student Piero Steinle as an artist duo. Since 1999 he has been working as an independent artist. Besides his photo works, 

Rosefeldt's work mainly comprises film and video installations in various styles: from documentary to theatrical narrative. He has also produced various videos for musical theatre productions. In addition to his film for Haydn's Die Schöpfung, shown at the Holland Festival in 2016, he has also produced visuals at the Schaubühne Berlin for The City / The Cut (2008) by Martin Crimp and Mark Ravenhill under the direction of Thomas Ostermeier, and Electronic City (2004) by Falk Richter under the direction of Tom Kühnel. His work has been exhibited in museums and galleries all over the world, including the Haus der Kunst and the Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste in Munich, the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum für Gegenwart and the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, Tate Modern London, Kunsthalle Wien, Centre Georges Pompidou Paris, ACMI Melbourne, Royal Academy of Fine Arts and the British Film Institute in London. In 2009 and 2010, Rosefeldt was a visiting professor in the faculty of Media Art at the Bauhaus University in Weimar. Since 2010, he has been a member of the Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste and holds the chair for Digital and Time-based Media at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste (both in Munich).


Focus: democracy

This year several festival artists are looking at the problems faced by Western democracies. The French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville admired democracy for its social equality. He saw its dangers too. Director Romeo Castellucci is making Democracy in America, based on De Tocqueville’s eponymous book 

(1835). In The Gabriels director Richard Nelson reflects on the recent American election year through the eyes of an ordinary family. Other artists focus on controversies in democracies, such as the issue of refugees in directors Dieudonné Niangouna and Thomas Bellinck’s performances. Others address the threat of violence (Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed), tyranny (Octavia), or shaping activism (The Tempest Society). In Manifesto the film director Julian Rosefeldt examines the relation between art and society. 

We are presenting two national theatre production companies, each with its own state of the nation: My Country by the National Theatre in London, and The Nation by the Dutch National Theatre in The Hague. Both performances show divided countries in which no one, from politicians to citizens, seems to dare to take responsibility. We also believe that it is important to explore democracy of form. Members of the audience can get actively involved as a passer-by, participant, or activist, if they so wish. Our artists encourage you to question the old hierarchy between the audience and the artists.



text, direction, producton
Julian Rosefeldt
Cate Blanchett
Ruhrtriennale, Australian Centre for the Moving Image (Melbourne), Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney), Nationalgalerie - Staatliche Museen (Berlijn), Sprengel Museum Hannover
in cooperation with
Bayerischen Rundfunk
with support by
Medienboards Berlin-Brandenburg, Burger Collection Hongkong
full credits

website Julian Rosefeldt

texts based on manifestos by
Guillaume Appollinaire, Louis Aragon, Manuel Maples Arce, Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Stan Brakhage, André Breton, Carlo Carrà, Guy Debord, Paul Éluard, Friedrich Engels, Lucio Fontana, Naum Gabo, Werner Herzog, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Richard Huelsenbeck, Vicente Huidobro, Jim Jarmusch, John Reed Club of New York, Wassily Kandinsky, Wyndham Lewis, Sol LeWitt, George Maciunas, Kazimir Malevitsj, Franz Marc, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Karl Marx, Barnett Newman, Constant Nieuwenhuys, Claes Oldenburg, Anton Pevzner, Francis Picabia, Adrian Piper, Yvonne Rainer, Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes, Alexander Rodtschenko, Olga Rozanova, Luigi Russolo, Antonia Sant’Elia, Kurt Schwitters, Gino Severini, Philippe Soupault, Elaine Sturtevant, Bruno Taut, Lars von Trier, Tristan Tzara, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Robert Venturi, Dziga Vertov, Thomas Vinterberg, Emmett Williams, Lebbues Woods

This performance was made possible with support by