Marinella Senatore, ROSAS: The Attic #1, 2012
Photograph-Digital C-Print, Edition 2 + 1 AP
Courtesy of Peres Projects, Berlin
Marinella Senatore is an enigmatic artist who engages the public in a way that allows them to participate in performative gestures on a grand scale. She has traveled and lived in many different countries, worked with organizations and sought out participants via cold-call advertising in local newspapers, radio and word of mouth. She has in turn, learned German, Spanish, English and most recently sign language in order to better communicate with participants throughout various parts of the world. She engages within the realm and position of artistic agenda in order to organize possibilities. She meets with average people who are given the chance to participate in productions that have little or no narrative.  These vary from musical, to dance and theater performances and whose parts will eventually equal a whole. Most recently the artist has spent the last year in three different countries, resulting in ROSAS, Part One on view at Peres Projects in Berlin. The countries involved and their respective cities include, Berlin, Germany, Derby, England and Madrid, Spain. Senatore enters into each situation with a newness, open to happenstance yet armed with the experience that she is acquiring with each new ambitious, environmental endeavor. On view at Peres Projects is the result of one year of work,  meeting with people, brainstorming, filming, etc. and focusing on community involvement. ROSAS, is an opera, started with a script. Participants were able decide on their own agenda and narrative along with the level of public involvement. The artist chose to step away from this process as to not influence the contributors but has the final say in the filmed production. The resulting opera is the consequence of varied participants and their relative social systems, addressing issues of identity and beyond, even if not the initial goal. ROSAS is in three chapters, the first, Perfect Lives, was filmed in Berlin during a residency at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, the second part titled The Attic was made while in residence at Quad in Derby, UK and the final chapter was filmed at Matadero, in Madrid, Spain and is titled, Public Opinion Descends Upon The Demonstrators.
Recently at Peres Projects in Berlin, I met with Marinella Senatore at the gallery and spoke about this project and her interest in public works.
Katy Diamond Hamer: What is your motivation for making community based work/projects?
Marinella Senatore: I come from a cinema/music based background. I choose to not engage in a studio process alone but am rather motivated by having something happen [in physical space]. I’m interested in the political and social identity of a space and the experience [between] private and public memory sharing.
KDH: You’re practice is so particular and not many contemporary artists are this ambitious with a direct focus on the public. Who are the artists that you look at for inspiration?
MS: Artists that I look at include Stan Douglas, Tim Rollins, Tacita Dean, Jeremy Deller and others, but my own video is more about documentation and telling a story that links the artist to the community. It is a cinematic experience but with a focus on the eventual emancipation of the artist from the situation.
Marinella Senatore, ROSAS: Working is networking, 2012, Installation view
Mixed media, wood, fermacell panels, tea, sugar, milk, lemon, water boiler, video
Photograph Katy Hamer, courtesy of Peres Projects, Berlin
Installed at the gallery for the duration of part one of the exhibition, were a selection of photographs, t.v. screens with several of the video works compromising ROSAS in various stages of progress and a large drawing of a map featuring a rough diagram of the artist’s journey. Installed in the room furthest from the entrance, stood a wooden stand (ROSAS: Working is networking, 2012) where one could have a cup of tea with lemon. When I asked the artist about the tea, she mentioned the importance of drinking tea in England (and globally) and how it can be both a private or social activity allowing the viewer in a gallery to be immediately included and aware of taking part in something. As with the artist’s own agenda, communication is key and carries a heavy weight regarding the process of working towards something as a collective group.  In each of the three respective cities who are represented in ROSAS, the participants were taught various stages of production including lighting, which Senatore deemed one of the most important elements, especially since many residents were initially unaware of the malleable power of lighting used in establishing mood or sense of place. ROSAS is an abstract opera, a trilogy, that involves the participation of townsfolk from different international cities and walks of life. As far as content is concerned, each city tapped into their own interest and resources. In total, over 20,000 people have taken part in the production. Those living in Derby organized a parade, residents of Madrid involved synchronized swimmers and those based in Berlin offered up a complex script resulting in the libretto. Professionals from various industries also conducted extensive free workshops and activities held by volunteers in all three cities.
Marinella Senatore, ROSAS: The Division of Labor,  2012
Installation-10 monitors, 7 sound, 3 silent, DVD Players, wood shelves, headphones, videos
Photograph by Katy Hamer, courtesy of Peres Projects, Berlin
KDH: So, each city is granted the concept of social engagement. What about the respective plot in relation to the opera? Is that important to you as well?
MS: Not necessarily, I give them, [the local participants] the power of exchange and chance for disagreement and agreement. and I’m unaware of their initial decisions.
KDH: And, the musical score?
MS: I also don’t know much about it. It’s not about me, it’s about the process and belief in work. Teaching and the didactic process in general are all part of my work. They edit, but the final cut is mine.
Marinella Senatore, ROSAS: Public Opinion-Descends upon the demonstrators  #8,  2012
Photograph-Digital C-Print, Edition 2 + 1 AP
Courtesy of Peres Projects, Berlin
Along with the multi-dimensional installation within the gallery interior, opening night of ROSAS, Part One also featured a performance by Junges Ensemble Berlin, an orchestra composed of former employees from the BVG (underground train system) and the artist herself in a white blazer, seated towards the front of the stage playing the violin. The 2007 audio piece was composed by Ivan Dalia, a pianist and composer from Italy who has been blind since birth and a frequent collaborator. He was present completely by chance, having just happened to be in Berlin and received the exhibition invite to attend the opening. Within the realm of the gallery context and under the umbrella of what the community based ROSAS stands for, gallery visitors congregated in front of the make-shift stage and watched projected video excerpts fromthe opera while instrumental music poured into the gallery courtyard and in between residential and commercial structures on Grosse Hamburger Strasse.
ROSAS, Part One, screening and performance view at Peres Projects, Berlin
Photograph by Katy Hamer, 2012

ROSAS, Part One was on view at Peres Projects in Berlin until October 20th and Part Two will be on view at the gallery from November 3rd until December 15th. The resulting opera is also slated for a screening at the Italian Cultural Institute in New York, check their website for a specific date and time.

Ivan Dalia, pianist and composer, in front of the stage for ROSAS Part One at Peres Projects, Berlin
Photograph by Katy Hamer, 2012

More soon.