The Power of Illumination

At its peak, Battersea Power Station produced a fifth of London’s power. It supplied electricity to some of the city’s most recognisable landmarks from the 1930s to 1980s, including the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. Its world-famous chimneys – framed by over six million bricks – can be found throughout popular culture: perhaps most famously on the cover of Pink Floyd’s Animals (1977).

Now, Battersea is one of several London locations being transformed by Italian visual artist Marinella Senatore (b. 1977), in a series of exhibitions and events organised and presented by Mazzoleni. Collectively titled Afterglow, Senatore’s latest works take inspiration from Southern Italy’s luminarie: elaborate light structures that ­– traditionally – recreate cathedrals, piazzas, and other architectural elements for outdoor public celebrations and religious festivities. In Senatore’s installations, green, red, blue and yellow bulbs form intricate grids and decorative motifs. On 9 June, 200 people came together at Battersea for the exhibition’s inaugural participatory performance. Described by Senatore as a “collective ritual”, its aim was to inspire connection through art and movement.

Appearing on forecourts of buildings across London – as well as at Mazzoleni’s physical gallery – these sculptures act as, in the artist’s words: “monuments to and for people, to the ‘here and now.’” In an increasingly fast-paced, digital world, where the average person spends a total of 6 hours and 57 minutes looking at a screen each day, it’s perhaps never been more important to pause and appreciate our physical surroundings. Yet the show also reflects our continued fascination with public light art, and its inevitably ‘Instagram-friendly’ aesthetic. Contemporary proponents include Nathan Coley, Tracey Emin, Robert Montgomery and Chila Kumari Burman, who presented Tate Britain’s luminous 2020 winter commission.

Burman’s installation focused on community, collaboration and colour, whilst Coley, Emin and Montgomery are known for delivering thought-provoking poetry through minimal illuminated billboards. Senatore seems to bridge these two approaches, embedding messages of empowerment within playful patterns. New sculptures and drawings are on view at Mazzoleni London, with featured neon quotes including “Dance first think later”, by Samuel Beckett, and “We rise by lifting others”, as said by Robert Ingersoll. Such works are guaranteed to spread a sense of joy and positivity across the city.

Afterglow runs 9 June to 26 August 2022. Mazzoleni London at 15 Old Bond Street and selected sites across the city, including the Embassy of Italy in London, Battersea Power Station, SIAL School, the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain in Holland Park and Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden.

Find out more here.

Image Credits:
1. Marinella Senatore, Assembly, 2021, LED bulbs and mixed media on wooden and metal structure, 2 elements, at Battersea Power Station, London, 2022. Courtesy: The Artist, Mazzoleni London – Torino. Photo: Hektor – FOIfilms.

2. Marinella Senatore, Dance First Think Later, 2022, Glass tubes with mercury-free neon and cast methacrylate mounted on a painted aluminum panel, 140 x 160 cm. Photo: Todd-White Art Photography

3. Marinella Senatore, We Rise by Lifting Others, 2022, Glass tubes with mercury-free gas mixture (greeNeon) mounted on a painted steel panel, 170 x 110 cm. Photo: Todd-White Art Photography

4. Marinella Senatore, Dance First Think Later, 2021, LED bulbs and LED flex on a wooden and metal structure, 2 elements. Site specific installation in the courtyard of Petersham Nurseries, Covent Garden. Courtesy: The Artist, Mazzoleni London – Torino. Photo: Hektor – FOIfilms.

5. Marinella Senatore, We Rise by Lifting Others, 2022, Glass tubes with mercury-free gas mixture (greeNeon) mounted on a painted steel panel, 170 x 110 cm. Photo: Todd-White Art Photography

6. Marinella Senatore at the inaugural participatory performance of ‘Marinella Senatore. Afterglow’ at Battersea Power Station, 9thJune 2022. Courtesy: The Artist, Mazzoleni London – Torino. Photo: Christina Almeida