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Aldo Tambellini

(Syracuse, Italy, 1930)


He arrived at the impoverished and forgotten Lower East Side of New York in 1959, when its streets still burned due to the strong social and cultural movements that thought that everyday life was a political and emancipatory space of which people had to be conscious to reappropriate and fight from it. From the microscopic to the immense blackness of outer space, as in the work of Tambellini.

In those years he was mainly engaged in painting and sculpture, so he naturally began to apply different techniques on the film’s physicality. He became a pioneer of the cinema without camera, but also of the use of new media as video or experimentation with cathode ray tubes for television.

His work flees from symbolism, driving us to the space of immersion and experience seen as a form of knowledge to which we all have access, being able to embrace it from the individual, but always from a collective mechanism, as this changes when shared in the public space.

The Black Film Series includes a first stage of experimentation with film and video between 1965 and 1969 in which he makes films whose main characteristic is the use of black color and a deep sensorial exploration of the medium.
Program and notes by Helena Girón and Samuel Delgado.

Acknowledgment: Aldo Tambellini, Anna Salamone, Helena Girón, Samuel Delgado, Beli Martínez.


1. Black is / 1965/16 mm / 4 ’00
It is his first film made without camera. He pierces, scratches and uses different substances like acid or paint on the film and emulsion. The rhythmic and fragile sound of the heart redefines the fluidity of images that refuse to be identified and which refer us to the essence of cinema: light and darkness.

2. Black Trip 1/1965/16 mm / 5’00
A microscopic world invisible to the eye is revealed to us as the magnetic waves are heard reverberating frantically.
For the creation of this lysergic trip he introduces a disruptive soundtrack and applies new techniques such as kinescope, video or the use of figurative elements that begin to slip through the footage.

3. Black Out / 1965/16 mm / 9’00
Aldo returns to his origins by evoking the context of the Vietnam War and his reminiscences of the bombing of Lucca when he was a teenager during World War II.

4. Black Plus X / 1966/16 mm / 9’00
Edited on camera, it documents the liberating playing time of a few black children on Coney Island while at the same time it demonstrates the absurdity of hegemonic discourse through a simple photographic game.

5. Black Trip 2/1967/16 mm / 3’00
On this trip the political load of his previous works is made explicit by introducing archive material of the Russian Revolution while listening to the well-known motto “Black is beautiful”.

6. Moonblack / 1965-1968 / 16 mm / 4’55
Alekséi Leonov, the first cosmonaut to get out of a spaceship, described the sun as a huge burning disk in the black velvet sky of outer space. His words come alive and reverberate on this cosmic journey to the moon.

7. Black TV / 1964-1968 / 16 mm / 10’00
It is Tambellini’s best-known video work that, in his own words, “deals with the future, contemporary America, the media, injustice, the testimony of events and the expansion of the senses. The act of communication and experience is essential.”

8. Black Spiral / 1969 / Beta Numérique / 11’00
Conceived as an installation and defined as a “television sculpture”, it is created from the experimentation with cathode ray tubes for television. The images are swallowed by a whirlwind of white light in constant motion. It is part of the works that he would make after his Black Film Series, called Cathodic Works.

Duration: 62 min. Sala (S8) PALEXCO – 1/06. 19.10 h.


The Gate Theater
In 1966, Aldo Tambellini opens The Gate Theater in the Lower East Side of New York, a room with two hundred seats for the exhibition of movies and experimental theater. For just $ 1.5 you could see experimental and cutting-edge movies daily. There people could enjoy films by Bruce Conner, Stan Brakhage, Robert Breer, Maya Deren, Ed Emshwiller, Jud Yalkut, and Tahakiko Iimura. To this day, this space refers to the current microcinemas. The Gate Theater is an inspiring experience developed from the autonomy with the desire to show the general public -especially the people of the neighborhood- a cinema that at the time, like now, was consigned to museums.

José Soltero, 1965, 16mm, 11 min.

Scorpio Rising
Kenneth Anger, 1963, 16mm, 29 min.

No President
Jack Smith, 1967-1970, 16 mm, 45 min.

Within this “black letter”, Tambellini has selected films representative of the spirit of The Gate Theater that were programmed there during its years of activity. Thus, with José Soltero’s Jerovi, he refers us to the Puerto Rican community present in the neighborhood from a camp and proto-queer aesthetics. Scorpio Rising by Keneth Anger was the longest-running movie on The Gate Theater’s billboard running for more than a month. And finally, No President by Jack Smith who during the projection tried to re-edit the film taking advantage of the reel changes. This anecdote shows how to understand the cinema as an unfinished work and in permanent change that Tambellini favoured and that would lead him to make performance works.

Duration: 85 min. CGAI – 3/06. 20 h.

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