“Mambo Madness” takes place in a totalitarian state called Silencio City. The film unfolds in an asylum designed to resemble a night club that has been specially created to detain citizens that have been infected with “clave”: the erotic and propulsive rhythms that keep time on the dance floor of the imagination.
Born in Puerto Rico, Adal Maldonado is one of the most innovative and celebrated artists working today. As have many other artists/photographers of his generation (most notably Cindy Sherman, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Lucas Samaras) and due to his complex view of double identity, Adal has systematically explored identity issues to their ultimate consequences. Adal is the author of “La Mambopera” written during a Playwright-in-Residence at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, NYC. It had a staging of Act 1 on the stage at the Center in 2003 and premiered in its entirety at the Hostos Center for Arts & Culture in October 2006. Adal is also known for his collaborations with other artists. Adal conceived and directed Mondo Mambo which was presented in collaboration with Playwright/Poet Rev. Pedro Pietri, Tito Puente and Eddie Torres at the Public Theater, NYC, 1990. He has also collaborated with playwright Ntozake Shange, creating the Photographic Environmental Design of the play “Love Space Demands”. Adal is also the co-founder with Pedro Pietri of El Puerto Rican Embassy, NY 1994. Adal’s work has been exhibited at and is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), El Museo del Barrio (NYC), the Musee Modern de la Ville de Paris (France), and Musee de la Photographie a Charleroi, Belgium, Lehigh University Art Galleries. A retrospective of his work was exhibited and a book of this work published by Harvard U. Press in 2004 -2005 at the David Rockfeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA).
What inspired you to make this piece?
"Mambo Madness" was originally intended to be part of a larger project entitled, La Mambopera
a paranoid political satire which I wrote as a playwright-in-residence at the Tribecca Performing Arts Center, NYC. The story unfolds in Silencio City - a State that has outlawed music and all its related expressions because it disrupts the harmonic order of things. In this repressive environment there is an underground club called El Mambo Paraiso where citizens go to access their creative spirit. However, unbeknown to them it is a simulated environment created by the State where citizens can channel their subversive urges making them easier to control. "Mambo Madness" was originally created to be projected in this club environment but the film developed into an autonomous work of art and took on a life of its own.
Briefly tell us about how you made your film or video: what camera and format did you use to shoot your piece, and what system did you use to edit it? What is your working process? Did you use any special techniques to make this work?
"Mambo Madness" was reconstructed from a documentary made in the early 1950s by unknowned filmmakers at the Palladium Ballroom. The original was approximately 30 minutes. Using a Professional Final Cut Editing program I logged the entire footage into the program. I then edited the frames that communicated my premise, slowed the action down considerably to accentuate a possession ritual and further emphasized the repressive presence of the State by introducing an original narration which I wrote. To add to the disturbing atmosphere I ran the original soundtrack backwards and invited Venezuelan composer/musician Gonzalo Grau – who’s also the arranger, composer of the music for La Mambopera
– to play Besame Mucho as a bolero-durge during the running time of the piece.
What is the relationship between your work as a video/filmmaker and life in the New York metropolitan area?
Giuliani’s New York’s repressive police state tactics and his institution of the Art Police and disregard for cultural institutions as well as President Bush and Cheney’s lust for world domination were very present in my mind when I created this piece. Also, I was raised in the South Bronx where the seeds of the fusion of Afro-Cuban with Afro-Puerto Rican and other Afro-Latin rhythms - what we now call Salsa - were planted.
What films/videos and makers have inspired you or influenced your work? And why?
The works of the Italian realists, the French & European Surrealists and the Nuyorican Avant Garde have influenced my work. I have fused these approaches to create my own style.
If viewers are interested in obtaining copies of your work for rental or purchase, whom should they contact and at what address and phone number?
Anyone interested in my work can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
They should also visit my web site: www.mambopera.com
and my blog: www.lostidentities.vox.com