Pacifico Silano is a lens-based artist whose work is an exploration of print culture and the circulation of imagery. Born in Brooklyn, NY, he received his MFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts. His work has been exhibited in numerous group shows and features in prestigious publications worldwide. A selection of his work will be included in the exhibition “Fantasy America” at The Warhol Museum in the Fall of 2020.
KB: How would you say your style evolved over the years to what it is today?
Pacifico: Being invested in a particular subject matter over a long period of time has given me a lot of room to experiment and try a variety of approaches. My earlier works are less finessed, probably because I was still trying to find my own visual vocabulary. As time has gone by I find that I’m much more specific and focused in what I choose to photograph and collage. I’ve also recently learned printmaking after a year long residency at the Lower East Side Printshop. So now I’m finding ways to merge the two mediums. It’s a really exciting direction for me.
KB: Where do you get all the vintage porn supplies from? And do you always look for somethign specific having something in mind or do you see something like in a vintage magazine and then an idea starts to take shape?
Pacifico: I get a lot of source material from ebay. It’s always a bit of a gamble because I never know what kind of content I’m getting. Sometimes it’s a waste of $20 other times I strike gold. I always take my time looking through the magazines and try to conceptualize before I start cutting them up. Generally I have some idea about what I’m looking for but always try and keep an open mind. I like to let the source material guide the work.
KB: How would you describe the masculinity you constract in your work?
Pacifico: I rework media representations of gay identity that are messy, complicated and ingrained in our culture.
KB: There is a lot of historical references, especially regarding queer history, in your work. Where does this interest come from?
Pacifico: I’ve always had a love for history and a curiosity for the things that have come before me. The past always dictates the future.
I’ve told this story many times before but it’s still one of my motivations for making the work that I do. My uncle died from complications of AIDS when I was very young. He was from a old school Brooklyn Italian family where being gay wasn’t embraced. After he died it was as if he never existed. That erasure has always bothered me. So my work relates back to the visual culture of his generation. These are the images that he lived through.
KB: What are you working on at the moment and what do you wanna do next?
Pacifico: I’m always working on my queer archive based work. Whenever I think I’m done with this project it finds a new way to pull me back in.
I am also concurrently working on a project about JFK Jr. that looks at the American obsession with political royalty and celebrity. The work is an exploration of media representations of white masculinity and our relationship to the term “All American.”
I’m figuring out an installation of this work for the exhibition “Fantasy America” at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pa. opening in 2020. I thankfully have some time to figure it out!