Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Pacifico Silano

Jul 14, 2015 - Jeremy August Haik

Today I'm bringing you some new work from NY-based artist Pacifico Silano. Currently, he is an artist in residence at Baxter St (CCNY); these images are a sampling of the work he is currently preparing for his solo exhibition there later this year. Pacifico's work over the past several years has dealt with the photographic record of gay male identity. Throughout all of his work, which involves equal parts collection, appropriation, and careful observation, Pacifico presents us with a contemporary window into pockets of gay history defined in part by their absence from mainstream historical narratives. Pacifico has this to say about the relationship between history and photographs:

I think of the photographs that I make as a way of collaborating with the past, and I find value in reclaiming what has been lost and preserving what may soon be. Tearing pages, obscuring surfaces and juxtaposing artifacts are just some of the many ways my work makes interventions with small parts of history.

Pacifico's exploration of this topic has moved fluidly between various historical eras, from Germany in the 1930s to an American porn star in the 1970s but recently he has been returning to a specific historical period that has been present in his work for several years, post-Stonewall 70s and early 80s at the onset of the AIDS epidemic. Here's what he has to say:

For the past five years I have focused on creating conceptually based imagery that delves into the culture of gay identity after the  Stonewall riots. I’m specifically interested in the years from 1969 to 1983, when AIDS was first written about as a “gay disease."

The process of making these images has evolved over the years. While I’ve been working with  the scale of a photograph, video sculpture and appropriation, in the last year my work has gone through a dramatic transformation. Instead of cramming content into the frame, I find myself removing elements until I am left with the bare minimum. My approach to making an image has become more archive based, as I play with form, color and the content of gay imagery from old magazines and snapshots. I’m interested in these small, fragmented parts of a history that can easily be disposed of -- I’ve collected mementos of the time such as matchbooks from a leather bar and soap from a shuttered bath house, studying them like an anthropologist would.

Pacifico's website can be found here