Marinella Senatore
Protest Forms: Memory and Celebration, Part II

What happens when protests become form? Does a protest become clearer or stronger through a gesture, a song, a chant in unison? Can the memory of past demonstrations nourish the struggles to come, and help organize new ways of reclaiming the common good for the future, through the celebration by recent and past generations of past achievements? And finally, what is possible when different constituencies of protesting bodies join forces to express dissent and show alternatives to the given scenario? Can “The Possible” become a richer, more meaningful and inclusive category to inhabit after the act of protest, in opposition to the empty option of “The Future” and related never-fulfilled promises?

The performance Protest Forms: Memory and Celebration Part II shares all these questions with participants that have replied to Italian artist Marinella Senatore’s call. This public artwork in the form of a durational performance took place at the Queens Museum on April 9, from 4 to 5:30pm, as part of Piazza Universale / Social Stages, Senatore’s first solo show initiated by an American museum. Curated by Matteo Lucchetti, the exhibition opens on the same day. The performance involved over 320 participants from many different creative worlds. From spoken word artists to an Afro-Colombian bullerengue group to a LGBTQ symphonic band to a chorus made up of union members to representatives from important activist groups, Protest Forms is dedicated to the past and present civic struggles of New York City communities. Queens Anthem, an original music score composed by Emiliano Branda, is based on an open call to Queens residents to submit sonic memories of their borough and the protest songs related to their communities. It premiered as part of the larger performance, and you can hear the instrumental version of the piece here:

Queens Anthem
Music by Emiliano Branda in collaboration with residents of Queens
Concept by Marinella Senatore

In this performance, the artist articulates her long-term interest in the role that movement, music, and the crowd play in the creation of temporary communities united in demonstrating resistance. Inspired by examples such as the “second line” parade in New Orleans, the acts of nonviolent civil disobedience such as the “die in” used by ACT-UP or Black Lives Matter, but also the simple act of marching and rallying in public space, the work also hopes to bind together cultural resistance of historical groups such as participants in the Stonewall Riots in June 1969, the Young Lords, or the Black Panthers.

Senatore explores legacies of protest in the United States and collective memories in New York, while also engaging with joyful and ceremonial choreographies of celebration, affiliation, empowerment, and belonging. For instance, the work celebrates the intergenerational communities around The Bread and Puppet Theatre or Martha Graham’s School, together with other formations like a brass band, doubledutch jump rope group, or a Youth Wrestlers program. The incredible variety of cultures that make Queens the most diverse neighborhood in the world is represented by a neo-folkloric dance ensemble, an Afro-Brazilian samba reggae percussion band, and the sounds and movements of Afro-Colombian bullerengue, capoeira, and indigenous Aztec groups. The chants, songs, interventions, and dances that have accompanied protest over the years represent a political and cultural heritage that is important to preserve, revive, and mobilize in our current moment, remembering the sense of individual and collective empowerment that comes with it. By inviting a wide cross-section of participants engaged with movement, music, and protest, Protest Forms spontaneously transforms a public stage into an intersectional social platform that shows the political aesthetics of bodies and sound-in-motion. The performance becomes a contemporary civic ritual that is as much a place of memory as it is a space for empowerment.

Featuring:

Abby Dobson
Vocalist and artist-in-residence at African American Policy Forum, singing “Say Her Name”

Academia De Mariachi Nuevo Amanecer
Youth mariachi academy

Àse Dance Theatre Collective
Neo-folkloric performance ensemble

Bangladesh Institute of Performing Arts – BIPA

Batala New York
Afro-Brazilian samba reggae percussion band

Beat the Streets, Queens
Youth wrestling program

Black Lives Matter NYC – Black Creative Brilliance (BCB)
Black Lives Matter NYC’s Arts & Culture Crew

Bread and Puppet Theater – Greg Corbino and Queens Museum’s Queens Teens Program
The Bread and Puppet Theater performs The Foot, a cantastoria first performed in 1983 for the Nuclear Disarmament March in New York City

Brooklyn Nomads
Middle Eastern folk ensemble of accomplished Arab, Turkish, Iranian, classical, bluegrass, and jazz musicians

Bulla en el Barrio
Afro-Colombian bullerengue group

Capoeira Muçurumim
Capoeira Angola Group

Carlos Aponte
Former Education Lieutenant of The Young Lords Party

Danza Azteca Chichimeca
Indigenous Aztec dance group

DJ Rekha
Producer, curator, educator, and founder of Basement Bhangra

FloydLittle Double Dutch
World champion double dutch jumping team

Funkrust Brass Band
Twenty-piece brass band blending punk, disco, funk, Balkan brass and New Orleans second line

House of Duende – choreography by Arielle Rosales
Intercultural dance collective spanning styles such as vogue, hip hop, flamenco, kathak, and african diaspora

Isadora Rhythmic Gymnastics
Youth rhythmic gymnasts

Jive Poetic
Spoken word poet

Joshua Garcia
Folk musician who will be singing a compilation of classic protest songs by Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger

Lady Dragons Step Team
Brooklyn Technical High School Step Dance Team

Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps Symphonic Band
45 piece LGBTQ symphonic band

Mahogany Browne
Spoken word poet

Marshall Davis Jr.
Tap dancer

Graham 2 from the Martha Graham School and Teens@Graham from the Martha Graham School
Contemporary Dance – Graham 2 will perform a selection from Prelude to Action and Teens@Graham will perform a selection from Panorama

Megan Schubert
Opera Singer – Soprano

Queensboro Dancers
Group from the Queensboro Dance Festival

Queensborough Community College Dance Program
Improvisation as protest – students from choreographer Emily Berry’s class

Queens of Pain – Gotham Girls Roller Derby
Roller derby representing Queens

Shanelle Gabriel
Spoken word poet

SMTH
Rap artist

The Corona Youth Music Project
Orchestra dedicated to empowering youth, fighting poverty, and promoting social inclusion through music

The New York City Labor Chorus
Chorus promoting union solidarity with members representing over 20 labor unions and District Councils

The Peace Poets
Spoken word poetry and rap

Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment
Self-defense, social entrepreneurship and leadership development movement for young Muslim women

Image: Marinella Senatore, Protest Forms: Memory and Celebration, performance, La Quadriennale di Roma, 2016