Introduced by SAIC Professor, Bruce Jenkins


September 26, 2010

Aldo Tambellini (b. 1930) was a vital part of the New York arts scene in the 1950s and 60s. He was a painter, sculptor, poet, photographer, film and video maker, multi-media artist, television pioneer, curator, organizer, and arts activist. During that period he produced the Black Film series, an extraordinary group of seven films (six of which are showing) that were well known at the time but have only recently begun to be ‘rediscovered’ with screenings in Leeds, UK, in 2007 and in Boston earlier this year.

White Light Cinema and The Nightingale are pleased to present these films in new digital transfers (prints in the U.S. are currently unavailable), plus some additional material TBA.

“As a key figure of the 1960s Lower East Side arts scene, Aldo Tambellini used a variety of media for social and political communication. In the age of Marshall McLuhan and Buckminster Fuller, Tambellini manipulated new technology in an exploration of the “psychological re-orientation of man in the space age.” He presented immersive, multi-media environments and, having made his first experimental video as early as 1966, participated in early collaborations between artists and broadcast television. His dynamic Black Film Series (1965-69) extends from total abstraction to footage of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, the Vietnam War, and black teenagers in Coney Island. Tambellini worked directly on the film strip with chemicals, paint and ink, scratching, scraping, and intercutting material from industrial films, newsreels and TV. Abrasive, provocative and turbulent, the series is a rapid-fire response to the beginning of the information age and a world in flux. “Black to me is like a beginning … Black is within totality, the oneness of all. Black is the expansion of consciousness in all directions.'” (Mark Webber, Evolution 2007)

BLACK IS (1965, 4 mins., b/w)
“To the sound of a heartbeat and made entirely without the use of a camera, this film projects abstract forms and illuminations on a night-black background and suggests as Tambellini says, ‘seed black, seed black, sperm black, sperm black.'” (Grove Press Film Catalog)

BLACK TRIP (1965, 5 mins, b/w)

BLACK PLUS X (1966, 9 mins., b/w)
“Tambellini here focuses on contemporary life in a black community. The extra, the “X” of Black Plus X, is a filmic device by which a black person is instantaneously turned white by the mere projection of the negative image. The time is summer, and the place is an oceanside amusement park where black children are playing in the surf and enjoying the rides, quite oblivious to Tambellini’s tongue-in-cheek ‘solution’ to the race problem.” (Grove Press Film Catalog)

BLACK TRIP 2 (1967, 3 mins., b/w)
“An internal probing of the violence and mystery of the American psyche seen through the eye of a black man and the Russian revolution.” (AT)

BLACKOUT (1965, 9 mins., b/w)

BLACK TV (1968, 10 mins., b/w)
“Through the uses of kinescope, video, multimedia, and direct painting on film, an impression is gained of the frantic action of protoplasm under a microscope where an imaginative viewer may see the genesis of it all.” (Grove Press Film Catalog)

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