For After Silence, Pacifico Silano presents a series of photographs, which evoke the emotional and physical voids felt as a result of the AIDS epidemic.
Through fragmenting, obscuring, layering, reassembling, and re-photographing, Silano re-contextualizes gay erotica from the 1970’s pre-AIDS era, such as the Richard Marshall Collection of Gay Pornography at NYU’s Fales Library. The images found within the Disco-era magazines such as Blueboy, Honcho, and Drummer, are saturated with innocence and naiveté; euphoric colors; and an aura of total liberation. Today, we access this archive with the knowledge of the devastation experienced by this community and an entire generation.
After Silence considers complex issues and quiet meditations on queer ephemera, identity, and our evolving relationship to the archive.
Installation shot courtesy of Argenis Apolinario/The Bronx Museum of the Arts
Installation shot courtesy of Larissa Ramey/PCA&D
Installation shot courtesy of Larissa Ramey/PCA&D
Every aspect of John F. Kennedy Jr.’s life was photographed, televised, and written about in a headline. His classic good looks and sexualized physique became a staple of mainstream media coverage. American culture feeds off of name recognition, likability and attractiveness. These reworked photos blur the line between the public and private self, our obsession with creating celebrity, and the American fascination with political royalty. We project our hopes, dreams and aspirations on those that are telegenic.
In the project John John, Pacifico Silano sources imagery of John F. Kennedy Jr. from vintage tabloid magazines and newspapers, reworking their content and meaning through silkscreen, monotype, and photo-collage. As the twenty year anniversary of JFK Jr.’s tragic death closely approaches, we are left to wonder what might have been.
In the project “Arrangements,” Pacifico Silano sources imagery from vintage gay pornography magazines, reworking, collaging and documenting tear sheets that formally relate to one another. Each arrangement serves as a marker of a gay man who once was here. Using magazines that span from the 1970s to the early 1980s, Silano creates collages that speak directly to loss as a result of the AIDS crisis. Each photograph is presented and preserved in thick slabs of plexiglass. Freestanding, various sized prints are grouped together and arranged to conceal and reveal a hidden history. Gay identity and its relationship to the circulation of images and print culture is often left unexamined.
In Tear Sheets, Pacifico Silano creates composite images that appropriate gay iconography from 1970s and 80s porn magazines such as Blueboy, Torso and Honcho in order to negotiate his own identity and formative experiences as impacted by the AIDS crisis. The images that filled the glossy pages of these magazines once accompanied articles on blithe topics – fashion, popular culture, sex and cruising – intertwined with heavier issues such as gay rights, political activism and HIV/AIDS. The pages of these magazines represent specific cultural moments that are often obliterated and forgotten. Although porn has largely been discarded and devalued as “ephemera,” the content of these magazines is evident of a gay socialization and identity formation that has had global consequence and influence, fragmented and transformed but still alive today. As an abyss of pornography has moved from under the mattress to the mobile phone screen, gay identity and its relationship to the circulation of images is often left unexamined. In response, Silano’s Tear Sheets explores the visual culture and iconography of his queer predecessors to reconcile the loss and longing that permeates those affected by the AIDS crisis.
Pacifico Silano’s artistic practice operates much like an archive itself: magazines are found and salvaged and the images that most strongly speak to gay sexuality and identity of the time period, especially pertaining to the AIDS crisis, are carefully organized and systematized. The work comprising Tear Sheets was crafted by tearing and obscuring the source material – juxtaposing pornography, advertisements and images of gay icons. Taking formal and conceptual cues from The Pictures Generation – the fragility and easy manipulation of the physical material along with images starkly isolated by expanses of negative space – expresses the loss of history, family and community depicted in the images. Like any archive that comes to shape a history, Silano’s Tear Sheets grapples with his personal power and the external forces that determine what is worthy of remembering and what is destroyed.
Pages of a Blueboy Magazine
In Pages of a Blueboy Magazine, Pacifico Silano has cropped and removed the overtly sexual details of one hundred male centerfolds. The remaining gazes of the male models allow the viewer to contemplate the mortality of the men depicted and of the images’ original consumers.
Pages of a Blueboy Magazine, 2012
"AIM Calling: 2nd Bronx Biennial," Bronx Museum of The Arts, 2013
"Art AIDS America," Tacoma Art Museum, 2015
"Art AIDS America," Bronx Museum of The Arts, 2016
Male Fantasy Icon
“Against Nature” is a body of work that investigates the subjugated history of gay men living in Nazi Germany during World War II. Taking its name from “Paragraph 175,” part of the old German Criminal Code that made acts of homosexuality illegal, it also was the rallying cry of a homophile movement dating back to Oscar Wilde and Aestheticism in the 19th century. Employing the color scheme of red, black, and white—the same Prussian color combination relating to a large number of nationalistic move-ments (both left and right), in addition to much of the print culture of the day, but also Nazi propaganda specifically, of course—Pacifico Silano’s project creates new meaning in found photographs juxtaposed with obscure portraits and still life imagery. Culled from a variety of sources—including World War II photographs, but also earlier naturist journals—Pacifico Silano’s work highlights the link from German nationalism back to earlier body culture movements—which incidentally were the first to organize German youth into nationalistic cadres. And by alternating between images of single figures to groups, Pacifico Silano considers the relationship of the individual to the collective as it relates to identity, memory, history, and the Holocaust.