A Conversation With Berlin Artist Fábio M. Silva
Photography: Rodolfo Vommaro
Artist Fábio M. Silva has one of the most interesting perspectives in Berlin’s art scene, blending together fashion design, drag and music into a captivating multi-disciplinary practice. Silva’s work resonates as comfortably with gender-fucking drag creatures as it does with harnessed boys at Berghain, a dichotomy that could only work in a city with as mercurial an underground as the German capital.
Tell me about your artistic practice and the different forms it takes.
Fabio M. Silva: All of my work is somehow autobiographical and explores construction and deconstruction of identity. I work mostly with fashion and performance at the moment. I have done two fashion collections on my eponymous brand, currently working on the third one.
As a performer I perform both as Fábio and Collapsella. Fábio’s performances tend to be closer to abstract contemporary dance, while Collapsella focuses on a silly and trashy approach to entertainment and music.
Usually my work also incorporates different elements from visual arts although the end result is focused on fashion design or performance. I am also DJing quite often these days.
How is living in Berlin integral to your work as an artist?
Moving to Berlin allowed me to experiment a lot with my work. As cliché as it may sound, this city allows you to be whoever you want while at the same time providing you with a huge amount of inspiration, mostly coming from the people around you. I’m constantly trying new ways of expressing myself. Also there is a constant flow of people coming in and out of Berlin which “refresh” my creativity all the time.
Tell me about the alternative queer scene in Berlin as opposed to the more mainstream gay scene. Is there a difference? How much overlap is there?
Berlin’s queer scene is quite large so I honestly find it hard to even define what is alternative and what isn’t. The Schöneberg district has had an established gay scene since the Weimar Republic in the 20s and 30s and is probably the more mainstream scene in Berlin but everywhere else in the city you’ll find different alternative scenes which overlap often, but somehow remain apart from a more traditional mainstream one.
Tell me about the Real Housewives of Neukölln.
The Real Housewives of Neukölln were founded by me and 3 friends in August 2016. It started as a very casual weekly drag show that soon evolved into the current performance collective with 6 main performers and occasional guests. At the moment we organize two regular events in Berlin, FRRRUITY and LIVE KINO, the first one is a bi-monthly party with fun music and musical performances, the second is a monthly movie screening where we re-write the script and live dub the whole movie.
Our performances always are a comedic approach to aspects of Berlin life, from club culture to gender identity or the art scene. We use a lot of video in what we do, always in a completely improvised lo-fi way because that’s what is mostly characteristic to our characters/personas.
At the moment we are working on several performances for this summer that will explore completely different formats closer to an art happening than a drag show.
Where does your heart lie most, fashion or performance?
I think I am mostly interested in fashion, but music has been very present in all I do, especially since I started DJing and performing so often. I like the idea of blending different disciplines together – for example my upcoming collection will be launched together with a music album I am writing with a Berlin producer where songs take direct influence from each piece, their shapes, prints. Possibly instead of a fashion show I will show the collection through a concert.
Visit Silvia’s website to learn more about his work.