The performance is a follow-up to one Senatore staged for the Quadriennale di Roma last year, curated by Matteo Lucchetti, who also organized the Queens Museum show. It continues a core tenet of her practice, which takes a given community as its inspiration. In the past, that’s seen her create Rosas (2012), a roaming, multifaceted opera using 20,000 majority-amateur performers hailing from Spain, Germany, and the U.K.; and Speak Easy, a 2009 initiative that brought together over a thousand students and retirees from the periphery of Madrid to collaboratively create a film.
I watched a processional of Rosas
in 2012, down Berlin’s Auguststraße to her former gallery Peres Projects
’s former Mitte location (she’s now represented in the city by KOW
and by Laveronica in Modica), and have seen films and other documentation for a number of Senatore’s past initiatives. I’ve enjoyed the work and thought her artistic approach to be genuinely interesting—if at times more so for the participants than the viewer. But on Sunday, artist, artistic approach, location, and present moment combined to create not only what I’d argue is Senatore’s magnum opus to date but also the most impactful work of art that went on view in the past week.
Senatore spent nearly three months working with members of the community to create Protest Forms. She choreographed the order and placement (though not the content) of each group’s performance both inside and outside of the museum. She also initiated an open call to Queens residents, asking them to submit local protest songs and the sounds that remind them of their neighborhood, which she then gave to Italian composer Emiliano Branda to create an original score titled Queens Anthem.