‘We Rise by Lifting Others:’ Marinella Senatore’s Installation in the Strozzi Courtyard

The second set of COVID-19 contagion restrictions in Italy, as decreed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, has put strains on feeling close to each other, especially when citizens must follow social distancing regulations to keep each other safe.  Conversations around creating a sense of community in everyday life during a pandemic have inspired multidisciplinary artist Marinella Senatore to create a large, outdoor installation by the doors of Palazzo Strozzi.  Until February 7, 2021, the courtyard will display Senatore’s “We Rise by Lifting Others,” curated by Arturo Galansino, general director of the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation. The show also takes inspiration from the popular Southern Italian tradition of parading statues of patron saints surrounded by festive light displays during annual celebrations.

“We Rise by Lifting Others” is inscribed in orange light in a circle at the center of the work; at the top is another phrase meant to calm us down in the era of Coronavirus: “Breathe You Are Enough.”  At first glance, the installation looks one-dimensional; while moving around it another circle that creates a 3D effect is revealed, containing the phrase “The Word Community Feels Good.”

At the moment, the Palazzo Strozzi gallery remains closed due to anti-Covid restrictions, and will not reopen until March.  Although visitors cannot presently enter the exhibition space, they will be able to view the outdoor display in the courtyard. In addition to Senatore’s show, there are also virtual workshops focused on social activism and building community through performance art. 

Senatore, born in Cava de’ Tirreni (province of Salerno), is one of the best known contemporary Italian artists on an international level. She has worked with various mediums ranging from visual arts to dance and theater, and in 2013 founded the School of Narrative Dance. Her past artistic mediums have taken shape as performances, paintings, collages, installations, videos, and photographs that have responded to social themes and urban issues such as emancipation, equality, and the conditions of workers. Throughout Senatore’s career, her art has been exhibited in various locations in Italy and all over the world. Most recently, her work was featured in the historic center of Lecce where she illuminated the Dior catwalk with lights similar to the Florentine exhibition. 

“We Rise by Lifting Others” arrived in Palazzo Strozzi before Christmas where “We Rise by Lifting Others” is sharing the same space that has hosted important artists and female figures from Marina Abramovich to Natalia Goncharova. The installation will not only literally light up the municipality but also create a sense of hope among Florentines.  (elizabeth berry)