Accused of Censorship: Photographer Accuses Officials of Censoring His Work
By Joe Sperrin
32-year-old photographer, Pacifico Silano has accused Florida officials of censoring his photographs, being displayed in Bal Harbour, containing nudity or pornographic captions. Silano has caused uproar with his exhibition saying to have contained images “inappropriate for families”.
Paccifico Silano is a young photographer who primarily focuses on LGBTQ communities in cities in America. His work often takes inspiration from male modelling scenes and some scenes from adult magazines. In essence, he attempts to capture what life is like for young gay men in some of the USA’s larger cities. In this exhibition in particular, he focuses on the issue of HIV/AIDS, an epidemic that took the world unexpectedly in 1981. The fatal disease was often associated with gay men and killed hundreds of thousands of people during the 80s. Notably, Silano’s exhibition is concurrent with the recent release of Bohemian Rhapsody, the story of Freddie Mercury who is an inspiration for the LGBTQ community and died of AIDS in 1991. It therefore, seeks to bring the issue into light and address some of the taboos associated with the disease. Silano has also been recognised by Aperture Magazine and won the Pride Photograph Award in 2012.
The exhibition itself, due to be on the Bel Harbour Art Path, is called After Silence. The objection from the curators is the use of the word ‘queer’ and the reference to pornographic imagery in the descriptions of some of the works. Silano and Jose Diaz, the Chief Curator at the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, have both rejected complying with the censorship as they believe that a reexamined collection would not be “representative of contemporary queer issues”, such as HIV/AIDS. The mayor for the city Gabriel Groisman, insisted that the museum only wanted to remove two of the images presented due to their aforementioned issues.
Silano is due to have an exhibition at the Andy Warhol Museum in 2020, looking at issues confronting the LGBTQ community in an exhibition labelled Fantasy America. The Warhol Museum currently has an entire collection dedicated to works by members of the LGBTQ community or works relating to the community. However, although there will likely be no censorship of Silano’s works at the Warhol Museum, this issue does leave us with a question of LGBTQ representation within the art world. It is unexpected that in the modern day and age, works such as Silano’s would be censored, but nevertheless this remains the case. Are works such as these genuinely controversial? Or is the matter of sexuality still an issue to be addressed in the art world?
Gareth Harris, “Artist accuses Florida officials of censoring is photographs of queer life”, The Art Newspaper, Accessed 25 Oct, 2018, https://www.theartnewspaper.com
Niels van Maanen, “Let’s Meet Up With… Pacifico Silano!”, Pride Photo Award, Accessed 25 Oct, 2018, https://www.pridephotoaward.org
ArtNews, “Pacifico Silano at Stellar Projects, New York”, TheEditorsofArtNews, Accessed 25 Oct, 2018, http://www.artnews.com