March 11–August 6, 2017
ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe
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Curated by Pia Bolognesi and Giulio Bursi in collaboration with ZKM | Karlsruhe.
Conceived as a manifesto for an organic connection among painting, sculpture, photography, moving images, poetry and performance, Black Matters is the first major solo exhibition of Aldo Tambellini (born 1930, Syracuse, NY, USA).
A key figure in the 1960s underground scene of New York and a catalyst of innovation in the field of multimedia art, after early experiments with color in the 1950s, Tambellini embraced BLACK as an artistic, philosophical, social and political commitment. The American Civil Rights Movement and the struggle for racial equality, the Vietnam War, and the Space Age were the main influences on his visionary oeuvre, unique in that it demonstrates the fragile balance between an artist’s absorption of the stimuli provided by contemporary new technologies and the social and political environment of his time.
Attracted above all by the energetic nature of painting, Tambellini transferred a meticulous expression of the language and power of gesture first onto slides, and later onto film frames and video. Over the course of the 1960s he created his Black Project from which emerged the “Black Film Series,” 16mm films focused on philosophical and social facets of black; the Black Performances, multimedia performances he called “Electromedia,” which are based on his theories of the integration of the arts; the Black Video Series and Black TV, which took his mode of experimentation further into video and television technologies.
Black Matters, on the occasion of which the ZKM | Laboratory for Antiquated Video Systems digitized the entire video archive of the artist, is a journey through Aldo Tambellini’s most prolific, highly charged, and diversified period from 1960 to 1980. In addition to a selection of paintings rarely seen before from his New York years and films and videos that marked the artist’s success in the 1960s and 1970s, the retrospective presents the experiments and projects conducted by Tambellini’s Communicationsphere at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS), and a selection of his most recent multimedia works that were shown at Tate Modern in London (2012) and the 56th Venice Biennale (2015).
The exhibition will also premiere a new site-specific installation commissioned by ZKM. This multimedia work, once again after 60 years, presents Tambellini’s artistic investigations, philosophical underpinnings, and his political belief that “Black Matters” now more than ever.