Aldo Tambellini Space Is the Place
By Helena Girón y Samuel M. Delgado

From the distance, with the pass of time, everything seemed a mythological story. A confluence of referents that, more than an end, was a starting point. For a long time before our trip, readings and conversations always ended there: New York, 1960. A magical world in which free jazz musicians, experimental filmmakers and plastic artists lived together, all of them creating from the core idea of a radical freedom. The main focus of all this was the Lower East Side, which at that time was one of the popular and disadvantaged neighborhoods of the city. Aldo Tambellini is no longer there. He left New York in the mid-seventies and ended his relationship with this city of which he was a member.

Tambellini’s career is accompanied by both the correlative of gentrification and that of the assimilation of experimental cinema by the museum institutions. His work is intimately linked to the undeground of his time. Before meeting Aldo we started to walk the streets of the neighborhood today. In those streets there was no trace of what was once. But drift always has a reward. We crossed the neighborhood aimlessly, with the sole intention of losing ourselves as soon as possible. In a very short time we were getting it, we could no longer orient ourselves. In an instant the sound changed. The silence of the clothing stores, galleries and coffee shops disappeared to give way to Caribbean music, Dominican, Puerto Rican voices… And there they were, a little further away, but Tambellini’s neighbors were there.

I have always been opposed to the limits placed on me by society, the political system, the cultural… This came early in my life not attending the Fascist “radunata” where I would have been brainwashed to embrace fascism/the conformity of the art world, the racial delineations.

I had started to feel the restrictions that my paintings posed […] for in order to profuse you painting the artist still dependeds on a gallery, the art critic, an establishment which would accept, bless and diffuse your work. That is when I took to painting glass slides and projecting them from one building to the next in the Lower East Side of New York. There was freedom in seeing my now “paintings” larger than any canvas I could ever paint, projected for the world to see without the acceptance of an art critic, without the blessing of the art establishment without the much hated restrictions imposed on the artist.

Thoughts on Freedom, Aldo Tambellini, 1967

He was born between two lunar eclipses, also between two world wars. The cosmos and his experiences during and after the Second World War go through all his work. He was also strongly influenced by Fontana’s “spatiality” and the German “Zero Group” of which Otto Piene was part, with whom he shared a great friendship that would result in the opening of the Black Gate, a space for experimentation at the top of The Gate Theater, the hall of Aldo and Elsa Tambellini. The Gate Theater opened with an act of protest: the celebration of the New Visions Festival in September of 1966 in response to the fourth edition of the New York Film Festival of which the filmmakers were excluded by the form and content of their movies. It should be remembered the long-standing censorship in the US that implicated even the laboratories, which at one point collaborated in the elimination of films with supposedly “obscene” content. It is well-known the case of the destruction by Kodak of one of the films that Kenneth Anger made in collaboration with Stan Brakhage and Jess Collins in 1954. But the sixties were not better either. Jose Soltero burned a flag of the United States in protest of the Vietnam War in a performance called LBJ in one of the most famous independent theaters of the Lower called The Bridge in early 1966. Elsa Tambellini was the artistic director of this performance and also took care of great part of the programming of this place. Years ago, in this same space, the police had confiscated Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures and sent Jonas Mekas to prison. Given its notorious history, The Bridge decided to close its doors for a time out of fear of possible reprisals. This closure was one of the reasons why The Gate Theater opened. All this happened at the same time that Aldo made his Black Film Series.

I started collecting Japanese film trailers, film material and discards. A friend and filmmaker, José Soltero, sold me his Bolex for only 300 $ and I started filming. After endless hours of editing, viewing and re-editing, a series of films were born that were “sensory experiences.” My films became moving paintings.
Conversation with Aldo Tambellini.
October 15, 2016. Cambridge (Massachusetts)

Far from there, in Cambridge, the meeting with Aldo becomes another door to that time that we do not feel mythical but undoubtedly intense. “Outside the theater, next to the entrance, there was a wall in which we made a great collage with the films that were to be projected that month. Every week we changed the programming that could be a compilation of very different films like the ones by the Kuchar Brothers, Stan Vanderbeek, people from the west coast like Bruce Conner who I like especially… Also experimental Japanese cinema. Taka (Takahiko Limura) lived only a few blocks from my house and used to go to Japan a lot, where he shot films of friends from New York, and came back with a lot of Japanese movies that we projected at the Gate. ”

His work is what remains of all that. The pursuit of experience, anger and power is in it.
Aldo Tambellini. Program 1. Tomorrow, Thursday, June 1st at 7:10 p.m. At (S8) Room, PALEXCO.
Program 2. Saturday, June 3 at 8:00 p.m. At CGAI.
Moondial Performance. Saturday 3 June at 23 h. At Luis Seoane Foundation.
Installation Atlantic in Brooklyn. Luis Seoane Foundation.

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