There’s so much and yet so little to say about 33-year- old artist Francisca Silva. So much because her work is a shrill, diverse and beguiling conglomerate of poetry, sculpture, painting, drawing, textiles and tattoos. So little because she doesn’t like talking about herself or her work. “I could talk sentimental nonsense,” she says, “but I don’t want to kill my art with words.”
Francisca Silva is a tough girl, a macho. Born to Chilean political refugees in 1984 in Ticino, she went to school in Italy, studied fine arts in Zürich, moved to Berlin in 2012 and returned to Switzerland in 2015. Today, she lives in Brooklyn. She is short and round, and an ever-evolving work of art herself: she wears “jewelry” – as she calls her tattoos – on her neck, arms, legs, belly and head, most of which she draws and inks in herself. A sea of clouds, an axe, a dolphin, a naked doll. A question in quivering letters: “Are you going to break my heart?” Silva tattoos others, too – in the studios of fellow tattooists and at performances, artist-run spaces, vernissages and readings from Lugano to Seoul. Kitted out with her ink and iron, she calls herself Macho. Macho is also the name of her one-woman publishing house – and the word indelibly inked into her left thigh.
25 Memoranden is Silva’s first artist’s book. A fine book to the touch, it is in essence a love song without flourishes. Or, to use her mantra, it’s simply “poetry”. She insists on calling these word combinations not sayings or slogans, but “poetry”, as though conjuring up in that one word the most precious thing in the world – in the form of 25 “memoranda”, poetic notes on love. Silva’s poetry is dead serious. Though not humor- less. Sexy, maybe. Mischievous, very probably. In 25 Memoranden, Silva subtly weaves her way in English, German and Spanish through the stormy seas of an ambivalent soul in the throes of courting, conquest and consummation.