After attending the Accademia di Belle Arti in Naples, Marinella Senatore enrolled at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinema in Rome to study the audiovisual languages of cinema and video. Video, photography, installations, drawing and painting became the media by which the artist recomposes personal and collective fragments of memory, rendering details of stories, environments and intimate atmospheres infused with a powerful emotional intensity. Her videos have progressively acquired an increasingly cinematic structure, including their production, giving rise to open-ended stories and potentially infinite meta-narratives, in which the principal diegetic developments are dispersed in micro-narratives arising from individual characters.
By short-circuiting personal and collective processes, reality and fiction, the artist’s projects develop a kaleidoscope of personal relationships that pass from her to the participants and are expanded to the anthropological context, fostering the construction of a repository of shared narratives and invoking a sense of choral community. Emblematic of this working method is, for example, one of her latest projects: Rosas, aimed at creating an opera in three acts for the screen, involving in the span of over a year a cast and crew of more than 20,000 participants in three different countries and produced by different international institutions (the Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, the Quad Museum, Derby, and the Matadero, Madrid). The communities involved adopt an alternative socio-political dynamic for the period of time in which the artist appears as the “activator” of collaborative processes by working on memories, experiences and encounters that become the material to be rewritten, suspended between reality and fiction. In this way Senatore spins a polyphonic tale that hybridizes various languages, a felicitous combination of different genres and ways of approaching the filmic text transformed into a true work of public art, with the narrative element becoming only the thread of a denser fabric, in which even the editing and photography, as well as the music come to be part of the narrative.
Travelers’ Handbook is based on the same participatory mechanisms. It is a work produced and partly created within the spaces of the Museo Madre in August 2007. The movie set was a true open workshop, with each visitor being invited to attend and participate in the phases of filming. The public therefore became an active part of each phase of the creative process, from writing to acting and including the technical elements such as art direction, cinematography and lighting. The roles of the artist as author and the public as the passive recipient of the artwork were questioned and reworked. The participants shared their time, experience and skills in a workshop atmosphere, in contact with content inspired by their own lives and their environment in a close relationship with their background and the level of involvement they desired. Involvement in Marinella Senatore’s public projects, as in the case of Travelers’ Handbook, is favored by mutual exchange and the sharing of expertise, stimulated by new teaching methods which activate the local resources to facilitate productive exchanges between all those who take part in this collective enterprise.