On May 17, 2007, THINC's Company Gallery will open an exhibition of photographs taken by artist, avant-garde filmmaker and video pioneer, Aldo Tambellini. These photographs, taken in 1948 with a Kodak Box Camera, are amongst the first images shot by Mr. Tambellini who was then just 18 years old. Mr.Tambellini documented the people and places of his early life in Syracuse, around Pine Street and E. Genesee. These images depict the life and surroundings of the residents of the 15th Ward, a section of Syracuse of important historical significance.
The 15th ward was originally a Jewish settlement. As the Jewish community started to establish itself in Syracuse, it moved up towards the South of East Genesee Street and many African Americans moved into the 15th ward.
"Color was never an issue to us there, we were all struggling to survive and recover from the war, it was overwhelmingly an economic issue for us," Mr. Tambellini commented upon the dynamic cultural mix represented by the 15th ward.
When asked about the 15th ward, Lori Convington, a Syracuse based artist/activist and historian said: "It was a family community where everyone knew everyone else. They were all part of the same struggle. Some ended up staying on that side of town for generations, until the Urban Development (Removal) in 1963. Urban Development destroyed the moral fiber of the 15th Ward and the familiar sense of family is forever gone. Once again African American people were in Diaspora. Some families moved to the other side of the tracks South of East Genesee Street while others moved to the South Side.Either way that feeling of a family unit in the African American Community was never felt again in the City of Syracuse. "
In an effort to articulate the historical and contemporary relevance of these images, Lori Covington will re-visit some of the locations in Mr. Tambellini's photographs. With her camera, Ms. Covington will capture the contemporary locations and individuals that appear in Mr. Tambellini's original photographs. Along with engaging and informing text about about the individuals who once lived there and the area itself, Ms. Covington will connect a contemporary meaning for the viewer of Mr. Tambellini's historical photographs.
"By providing an oral history with a visual reference point, viewers will have the opportunity to learn a great deal about the history of this city, its inhabitants and its historical narratives," says Andrew Mount, Executive Director of ThINC.
Aldo Tambellini was born in Syracuse, NY in 1930 and was taken to Lucca, Italy when he was 18 months old. He lived in Lucca where he started art school at the age of 10 until his neighborhood was bombed in WWII. Twenty-one of his neighbors died; he miraculously survived. Soon after that he returned to the US to join his father in Syracuse. Being strongly influenced by the Neo-Realism of Italian Film, Aldo Tambellini seized the opportunity in 1948 to capture the raw daily life of his adopted neighborhood by borrowing a Kodak Box Camera from a friend and walking through this strange new world; capturing life as it was lived by its residents.