Luigi & Luca
This exhibition of the Italian artists, Luigi (b. 1982) and Luca (b. 1986), is the first show of their work in New York. It emanates from the intense collaboration of a gay artist couple, but is very different from the work of, let’s say, Gilbert & George, Pierre & Gilles or McDermott & McGough. Their approach to the media (photography) as well as video is open and moves from the snapshot to theatrical imagery with a variety of props and costumes. It starts with their private sexual and erotic life in the years 2007 to 2009 and includes staged pictures and short video clips with a multitude of complex images related to the history of Italian art as well as mythology. Their aesthetic strategies reference the intimacy of private images as well as the staged world of fashion photography.
This exhibition is comprised of two components; photographs extracted from the book, Private Album, taken from 2007 to 2009; and another series of photographs taken from 2008 to 2010. In the more recent works, Luigi and Luca create a contemporary photographic oeuvre in close personal cooperation in varying locations which is unusual and innovative, both in terms of form and content, as well as the mode of production of images. Unlike comparable artist couples who collaborated in the process of creation of their works, Luca and Luigi are both protagonists, each photographing the other. In a second step, a digital marriage of the two images becomes the final work, appearing as playful travesties using the traditional iconography of ancient art (Saint Sebastian, Cain and Abel, washing the feet of Christ, etc.), catapulted into the present; portrayed as polymorphic sexual rituals.
Their work reminds one of Jean Cocteau’s fascination with showing “innocents,” who are blameless. They are lovers in a space of intimacy established by themselves to overcome a sense of shame and the limits of disgust. They are subject and object of their own art, whereas the auto-erotic nature of many works is clear. Their “performances” appear often as obscene, but once one is used to them, are never pornographic. It is, indeed, the innocence and beauty of their actions, which holds us captive.
~ Peter Weiemair, Eugenio Viola, and Jerry Kajpust