Manifest United (2018)

Manifest United
– an anthology of changing ideas

PREMIERE: April 5th 2018 at Black Box Theatre in Oslo

As we dig into artists’ manifestos of the last 100 years, we throw ourselves into a hurricane of changing ideas, transformations and artistic envisions. It deals with nothing less than a revolution. The artists’ manifestos are eccentric, without reason, even scandalous as they combine humour, wisdom and alarming demands. Artists’ Manifestos United will be a cacophony of voices from diverse art forms.

You can hardly find a better place for utopian dreams anywhere but in the arts, as it stumbles forward, frail and unsteady at its feet. Art is living proof of everything which makes us human. Art is the last bastion, one worth fighting for. Art is an unequivocal alternative to individualism and indifference.

Artists ́ Manifestos United is a dream.
Artists ́ Manifestos United is a utopia.
Artists ́ Manifestos United is a catalyst.
Artists ́s !Manifest ! United !

What happened to the artists’ manifestos? What caused artists to stop making them? With these questions as starting point we embarked upon reading manifestos and art in theory from the last 100 years. I seem to have forgotten the explosive power latent in these texts, so exaggeratedly theatrical, revolutionary and outrageous, all at the same time. The manifestos demand something from us, they demand something of the world, and they demand it now. It is a lingual and ideological fight for our reality, filled with pathos, poetry and megalomania. Some are deeply serious, some just bizarre, while others balance between being revolutionary and speaking in jest. The manifestos and their view of the world are often strongly political, and at the same time they show a deep love for life; throughout, there is a trail of stoic optimism, an optimism so life-affirming, hallucinating, even utopian. Whether we will find any answers to our questions, I am not sure, but it feels as if we fell into a mine filled with gold, sulphur and phosphor.

Reading these manifestos, they are recognisable to the point of self-revealing. We realise where we are coming from, which art movements we are part of, and what pioneers we acknowledge. As we critically examine our own idols, we strive to redefine and intensify our own view of art, until this performance in itself becomes our own jabbering, hallucinating and animated manifesto.

The whole work, called art,
knows no borders or nations, only humanity.

In a bilateral world with the disintegration of previous institutions/alliances, and within an economy no longer able to support itself on the idea of infinite growth, it could seem as if capitalism as a system is about to implode. Thus far, capitalism has been greatly adaptable to change, and every now and then, it has even been rather sexy. However, if the standard of living will be worse for the next generation as a direct consequence: i.e. having to pay for a rapidly ageing population, then words such as stagnation, zero growth and restructuring are not as sexy anymore. I could add more synonyms, of course: standstill, stalemate, cultural pause?!, deadlock, dead end, backwater, layoff, redundancy.

The interesting part of art history is how art relates itself to ever-changing political realities. It is the history of an ongoing cultural battle, with a burning passion for the cause. It’s important to be reminded of this. To see and hear how vehement and violent the fighting has been throughout history, and how the benefits we take for granted are a result of years of revolt. The artists’ manifestos remind us of the battles fought for change, and are a testimony to how the ideas they have bannered have been far more utopian and revolutionary then the end result. In other words, they can serve as proof that in order to be able to make a change, it is necessary to employ far stronger means, if one is to drive a wedge into reality and incite ardency.

I am the architect, a constructor of worlds, a sensualist who worships
the flesh, the melody, a silhouette against the darkening sky. I cannot
know your name. Nor can you know mine.
Tomorrow, we begin together the construction of a city.
Lebbeus Woods

By and with: Saila Hyttinen, Fredrik Hannestad, Anders Mossling, Signe Becker, Per Platou, Tilo Hahn, Solveig Laland Mohn, Espen Klouman Høiner, Håkon Mathias Vassvik, Lea Basch, Kjersti Alm Eriksen, Jon Refsdal Moe, Pernille Mogensen. Supported by: Arts Council Norway. Co-produced by: Black Box teater (Oslo), Teaterhuset Avant Garden (Trondheim), BIT -Teatergarasjen (Bergen).

Texts: Dogme 95, Manifesto (1995). Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Futurist Manifesto (1908). Mina Loy, Futuristiske aforismer (1914). Antonio Artaud, Manifesto for a Theatre That Failed (1926). Gilbert & George, What our art means (1970). Lebbeus Woods, Manifesto (1993). Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Maintenance Art Manifesto (1969).  Claes Oldenburg, I Am for an Art (1961). Stanley Brouwn, A short manifesto (1964). Andy Warhol, Interview (1963).

Music: Alvin Lucier, Antonio Vivaldi, Edvard Grieg, Freesound, Hans Zimmer, Henry Purcell, Jean Sibelius, Joxaren, Per Platou, Pete Seeger, Talleiv Roysland.

Thanks to: Iver Findlay, Yolanda Cesta Cursach, David Giese (Joxaren), Antti Bjørn, Anders Hamre, Rom for dans, KHiO, Teater Manu, Ida Uvaas.

Photo: Camilla Jensen, Verk Produksjoner

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