Marinella Senatore (Cava de’ Tirreni, 1977) is a multidisciplinary artist trained in music, fine arts, and cinema. Her practice is characterised by a strong collective and participatory dimension; her work combines aesthetic research with the transformative power of social engagement.
Through the use of vernacular language forms – including pop culture, dance, music, mass events, and activism – and various moments of encounter, Senatore reflects on the political nature of collective formations and rituals and offers the public an opportunity for social change. Her works and interventions can be defined as fluid, site-specific containers, which are closely related to their environment of origin and based on a potentially infinite inclusion of elements. Her approach always acknowledges the surrounding context, in which the artworks become functional structures and create new ambiences through the use of multiple media (lights, sound effects, etc.).
Senatore’s works and performances have been commissioned and exhibited by Italian and international institutions alike, including: High Line, NY; Centre Pompidou Paris; Kunsthaus Zürich; Pearl Art Museum; MAXXI; Palais de Tokyo; Schirn Kunsthalle; Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago; Berlinische Galerie; Museo del Novecento, Milan; Kunsthalle Sankt Gallen; Faena Art Forum, Miami; Bozar; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo; Museums der Moderne Salzburg; Serpentine Gallery; CCA Tel Aviv; Museo Madre; Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; ICA, Richmond; Petach Tikva Museum of Art; BAK Utrecht; Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo; Palazzo Grassi; Museo Boijmans Van Beuningen; and Moderna Museet.
The artist has participated in the following contemporary art biennials: São Paulo Biennial; Venice Biennal; Lyon Biennial; Thessaloniki Biennial; Liverpool Biennial; Athens Biennial; Havana Biennial; Gothenburg Biennial; Cuenca Biennial; Pune Biennial; South Tyrol Biennial; Bangkok Biennial; and Manifesta12, Palermo.
In 2012, Marinella Senatore created The School of Narrative Dance (SOND), a nomadic, free of charge,
and non-hierarchical school that proposes an alternative educational system based on emancipation, empowerment, and self-education. With SOND, the artist creates platforms that invite non-professional community members to create site-specific collective movements and storytelling activities, aligned with the collective rituals of public festivals and protests alike.
The school’s activities vary according to their hosting space; so far, they have taken place in over 23 countries, involving about 6.5 million people.
Over the years SOND has received numerous commissions from institutions such as: Manifesta12, Castello di Rivoli; MAXXI, Rome; Venice Biennal, 2015; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Hayward Gallery. London; Queens Museum, New York; Kunsthaus, Zurich; Kunsthalle, Mannheim; Kunsthalle, Bregenz; Villa Medici, Rome; Serlachius Museums; Museo Pecci, Prato; Villa Stuck, Munich; Colomboscope, Sri Lanka; Festival of Regions and Steirischer Herbst, Austria; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; and Magazzino Italian Art, Cold Spring, NY.
Rosas, an opera in three acts conceived for the small screen, is the largest participatory project carried out in an urban context through the involvement of various institutions in three different countries, – Germany, England and Spain – which was joint by over 20,000 participants.
Senatore places social connections at the basis of
her work and focusses her research on activation, stressing the power of art to start a process of individual emancipation. The artist declares: «community, empowering and emancipation: the artist’s role is to activate a mechanism – which is the artwork – with the aim of creating a transforming force from the encounter of its own constituting elements, until it reaches the viewer.»
Workshops are an essential part of these kind of performative and installation projects, as they reunite people through new concepts of sharing.
Since her training at the National Film School in Rome (where the artist studied direction of photography and camera), the light has always been a key element for the artist; the light can prove to be a tool for narration and poetic creation, as well as for resistance and cohesion.
The light sculptures – especially those handcrafted with large LED bulbs – have been designed for public places, museums, and festivals worldwide. These “luminarie” have become a key, recurring element to Senatore’s production: particularly significant for their catalytic power, these ephemeral architectures create temporary spaces for rituals and socialization. Inspired by Southern Italy’s traditional illuminated decorations, they incorporate evocative quotes about self-empowerment and community building. Amongst the large-scale light installations, we mention: Afterglow at Battersea Power Station, London; We Rise By Lifting Others at Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, Florence; Park Platz for the Berlinische Galerie; FIAC Hors Les Murs at the Jardins des Tuileries, Paris; Steirischer Herbst’21, Graz; Panorama ITALICS at “Carcere Nuovo”, Procida; Back to Nature 2021 at Parco dei Daini, Villa Borghese, Rome; Museo del Novecento, Milan; and the 34th São Paulo Biennial.
Specifically created for the exhibition Make It Shine at Mazzoleni, Senatore’s new neon sculptures have been produced with an innovative technology that does not require mercury, a highly polluting metal already banned in several European countries. This procedure guarantees their future durability and replicability.
Senatore won numerous awards, such as: ACACIA Prize 2021; Cantica21 Italian Contemporary Art Everywhere Prize; Cinello Unlimited Prize; Italian Council Award (4th and 7th editions); Evelyn Award; York Museum, UK; Art Grant – The Foundation of Arts and Music for Dresden, Germany, 2017; MAXXI and AMACI (Associazione dei Musei d’Arte Contemporanea Italiani) Prize, 2014; Castello di Rivoli Fellowship, 2013; American Academy in Rome Fellowship; Gotham Prize and 23rd M. Bellisario Prize, 2012; The New York Prize e Premio Terna, 2010; and Dena Foundation Fellowship, 2009.
In addition to be teaching in several universities, Senatore regularly supports activities at the following international institutes: Goldsmiths in London, NYU in Berlin, ICA- Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, Foundation d’Entreprise Ricard in Paris, Accademia delle Belle Arti di Napoli in Naples, University of Madrid, University of Granada, University of Torino, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, NABA Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan, IUAV in Venice, Hochschule für Gestaltung in Frankfurt, and Guggenheim in New York. From 2021 Senatore is the only European artist to be teaching at The Alternative Art School (TAAS).