ATC Lecture — Tanya Zimbardo, “Black Sun: Reflections on Otto Piene and Aldo Tambellini”

Otto Piene, The Proliferation of the Sun, 1966-67, 2014 at Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; photo: Jasmine Powell

Otto Piene, The Proliferation of the Sun, 1966-67, 2014 at Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; photo: Jasmine Powell


On March 6, 2017, Tanya Zimbardo discussed her past and ongoing curatorial projects as well as an in-depth examination of “Black Gate Cologne,” a television series cited as the first program invented by artists, and our fascination of the sciences in art.

Zimbardo focused on the work of Otto Piene and Aldo Tambellini’s work on “Black Gate Cologne,” a seminal live event that involved film, light objects, and involvement of the audience.  She explained how Piene and Tambellini’s work was criticized as “a bombardment to the senses.” Hosted at the Gate Theatre in New York, “Black Gate Cologne,” Zimbardo noted, was named with acknowledgement to the space era, cosmic energy, and the Civil Rights movement.

The artists’ aim, Zimbardo said, was to present “a different visual language… Not zero as a nihilistic attitude, as a countdown like a rocketship, a new moment.”

Zimbardo then spoke to artists’ interest in physics, particularly the possibilities of kinetic movement in art. She drew on examples, some of which are on view at SFMOMA, that experimented with different expressions of space.

2017 ATC Tanya Zimbardo

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Tanya Zimbardo is a contemporary art curator based in San Francisco. As the assistant curator of media arts at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), Zimbardo is currently curating the exhibitions Runa Islam: Verso and New Work: Kerry Tribe and co-curating Nam June Paik and Soundtracks. Zimbardo has organized and co-organized exhibitions and select screening programs at SFMOMA. Current and recent guest curatorial projects in the Bay Area include Organic Logic, 500 Capp Street; Equilibrium: A Paul Kos Survey, di Rosa; Public Works: Artists’ Interventions 1970s-Now, Mills College Art Museum; and Versions: Kristin Lucas and Judy Malloy, Krowswork. Zimbardo has guest organized screenings at Artists’ Television Access, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts; University of California, Berkeley, and for SF Cinematheque. Her recent projects and writing are primarily centered on the history of exhibitions and site-specific works associated with experimental media, performance, conceptual art, and online projects. Zimbardo is participating in the 2017 researcher-in-residence program at Signal Culture, New York.


Berkeley’s Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium is an internationally recognized forum for presenting new ideas that challenge conventional wisdom about art, technology, and culture. This series, free of charge and open to the public, presents artists, writers, curators, and scholars who consider contemporary issues at the intersection of aesthetic expression, emerging technologies, and cultural history, from a critical perspective.