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      Pacifico Silano Uses Forgotten Gay Porn to Create New Queer History Pacifico Silano Uses Forgotten Gay Porn to Create New Queer History

      Pacifico Silano Uses Forgotten Gay Porn to Create New Queer History

      By Efrem Zelony-Mindell

      January 3, 2016


      All images courtesy of Pacifico Silano

      Pacifico Silano is a photographer of photographs. In many ways, he is a historian. The Brooklyn-based artist's new exhibition, Tear Sheets, currently at The Camera Club of New York, pushes conversations that, as he puts it, "are my history."

      The images in the show are cultivated appropriations of historic queer ephemera, such as psychiatric literature and porn mags from the 70s and 80s like Blueboy, Torso, and Honcho. Within the context of Tear Sheets, these discarded objects and boy-blasted come rags rise above forgotten cultural detritus and reveal themselves to be platforms of activism, nightlife, awareness, and gay rights, as well as relics of queer socialization and identity in pre-digital times.

      Silano's subtle manipulations of his materials allow seemingly conflicting topics to fuse seamlessly, such as references to gay smut and weightier things like HIV/AIDS, political oppression, and cultural marginalization. For example, the artist uses negative space in his works where he incorporates huge fields of white, sometimes black. The edge of the appropriated images cast shadows on to the voided space, emphasizing the feeling that something has been lost or forgotten, such as underground cultural spaces, sites of identity like defunct porn publications, or time periods and memories that came before the artist was even around to embrace them.

      But he also builds on top of appropriate images, as well as overlaps and tucks source material behind other objects, figuratively molding history or creating something new through use of archival items. Reinterpretation blossoms from Silano's metamorphoses and his appropriations become highly suggestive and pensive.

      Anyone can search for a sense of culture that seemed important at a certain time. But Silano thrives as an artist in his ability to interpret hazy memories and allow them to become what they weren't before. From this inquest of space and history there is discovery and invention. The world spins forward, and we look back in commemoration—to learn and reflect, to see new.



      Pacifico Silano's 'Tear Sheets' is on view at BAXTER ST. CCNY through January 16. Efrem Zelony-Mindell is a photography and writer based in NYC.

      Topics: photography, materials, Pacifico Silano, Baxter St. CCNY, imagery, history, queer, lgbt, sexuality, clippings, culture, queer culture, LGBTQ

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