Lisa Paul Streitfeld
Zero is a starting point. And an ending point. A potentiality awaiting realization. Zero is the point in space where the earth’s meridians meet the Sun’s rotation on the ecliptic. Zero marks the longest day on earth and the longest night, the absolute beginning of a solar revolution (Zero Aries) and absolute ending (Zero Capricorn). A nothingness and simultaneously a fullness, Black Zero is where the opposites of the universe converge.
Aldo Tambellini’s pioneering multimedia Black Zero events in the sixties marked the beginning of an East Village movement that erased the boundaries between artistic mediums. These performance incorporated poetry, music, slide projection, video, sculpture, painting and film into Tambellini’s trademark blackness. In his one man “factory” at 217 Second Street and Avenue C, this creative genius incorporated his environment into the foundation of his art. The streets provided the raw material for his sculptures and tenement buildings were early screens for his hand painted slides, the precursors his interactive Black Gate Theater on Second Avenue, a monument to the axis mundi still marked by signage.
If zero represented a starting point, black was the unknown terrain that Tambellini was exploring through his transcendent language of rotation — the dark inner space where a new archetype of holism was being formed. In the early sixties, Tambellini was, ironically, inspired to go inward by the Apollo Space Mission, yet he kept at it for another fifty years, a period when his work was lost and therefore literally held underground.
The discovery of this work has resulted in this landmark exhibition. The New York premiere of Tambellini‘s half century of multimedia art marks both an ending of the artist’s underground status and the beginning of a global acknowledgement of his contribution to the evolution of art. Today we can freely acknowledge that Tambellini’s pioneering penetration into inner space paralleled the race to discover dark energy. What science had already labeled as dark matter was Tambellini’s material, yet the physical power of these works is the containment of the dark energy of creation and destruction, the fertile soil supporting the birth of a new seed and the ashes that was the fate of many of the artist’s works.
With this life/death/rebirth cycle now complete, Black Zero now celebrates Tambellini’s hard-won emergence. From the blackness of a half-century held underground into standard bearer for a holistic movement in art, his journey into enlightenment parallels a half century race in science to uncover the unknown universe.