Baxter St is pleased to present a solo exhibition by artist and 2015 Workspace Resident Pacifico Silano. In Tear Sheets, 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.
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.
Pacifico Silano is a lens-based artist whose work is an investigation into lost histories of the LGBTQ community and how it has shaped contemporary gay identity. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he received his BFA in Photography from Pennsylvania College of Art & Design and his MFA in Photography, Video & related media from the School of Visual Arts. His work has been exhibited internationally, including group shows at the Bronx Museum; Context, Miami; Oude Kerk, Amsterdam; and ClampArt, New York City. His first solo exhibition, “Against Nature” opened at ClampArt in January of 2015. Awards won by Silano include the 2012 Individual Photographer’s Fellowship from the Aaron Siskind Foundation; Finalist for the Aperture Foundation Portfolio Prize and First Prize at the Pride Photo Awards in Amsterdam.
In Tear Sheets, 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. Musée Art Out.
In the 1970s and ’80s, the Pictures artists reworked Marlboro ads, Hollywood-film motifs, Walker Evansphotographs, and the front page of the New York Times. Their focus was the stuff of mass media, the images that couldn’t not be seen. This was pre-Internet—remember?—and their materials’ natural habitats, among others, were magazines and newspapers, printed cheaply and consumed by everyone. ArtForum’s Critics’ Pick.
Pacifico Silano is a BAXTER ST 2015 Workspace Resident. His new body of work, Tear Sheets – currently on view atBAXTER ST Camera Club of New York – pushes conversations that, as he puts it, “are my history.” The images in his new body of work deal with issues of gender, identity, HIV/AIDS awareness, abstraction and photography. Silano is a photographer of photographs; a historian in many senses, and his work challenges the stigma of both the camera and HIV/AIDS. aCurator Magazine.