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. 

Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett

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.


Her adoption of the persona of the homeless man, at the site of the abandoned German Spy Towers in Berlin, is powerful.


Its an exceptional installation, one I would recommend seeing.

Surrealism and DaDa at NGV Federation Square

Joined together shoes, one long fingered glove, and a hat with a zip, all are absurdly silly pieces made by Barry Humphries, in the fifties whilst a dadaist studying at Melbourne University.


Barry Humphries
Barry Humphries, Dada pieces 1950’s

These and other pieces by working Australian artists are featured in the “Lurid Beauty Exhibition” currently showing at the NGV’s Ian Potter Centre, Federation Square. Many of my favourite Australian artists are showing including Pat Brassington, a Tasmanian photographer and printmaker whose work features disembodied parts of the female body.

Starlight 2001 colour digital print
Pat Brassington,Starlight 2001
colour digital print

Exhibitors include Rosslynd Piggot, whose massive white bed imposes an improbable and powerful presence above the space inviting all to dream.

High Bed, 1998 construction of painted wood, metal, cotton etc
High Bed, 1998
construction of painted wood, metal, cotton etc

The gorgeous black and white photography of Max Dupain of the 1950’s models portrays images of a graceful and bygone era.


Shadow of Ballet Dancer 1938 silver gelatin photograph
Shadow of Ballet Dancer
1938 silver gelatin photograph

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.

Judith Wright 2011 Mixed Media A journey
Judith Wright, A journey (detail) 2011–12 mixed media – See more at:

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.