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Luigi and Luca: Tied and Bound

Dazed shot artists Luigi and Luca at the studio of Hans Peter Adamski and we find out more about the Berlin underground art duo.

You need to click about a bit on Berlin-based artistic duo Luigi and Luca's homepage to get to actually see any of their work. Once you do get there, you're hit with an over 18 warning. The images that ensue on Luigi and Luca's site are the fruits of their working and personal relationship with some certainly warranting that initial warning. They are without a doubt homoerotic but always make you question the composition, the idea behind the image and what was going through Luigi and Luca's heads when they were making that image. Still, their work has gotten them into some sticky situations; a French magazine was banned in Switzerland for publishing pictures of them pissing. They've been faced with police interdiction at the Mexican border for carrying prints, which were considered pornography, and as a result, they were not not allowed to enter the country.

Whilst they call themselves visual artists, they're also quick to embrace codes of fashion photography having worked with Frankie Morello on campaign imagery, a relationship that will carry on for next season. Taking that into consideration, Dazed shot Luigi and Luca as models for the July issue at painter Hans Peter Adamski's studio in Berlin. Given that Luigi and Luca are used to working by themselves, creating and controlling their images, they were happy to be styled by Robbie Spencer and shot by Holger Homann and we show the extra shots from the shoot here and find out more about their working partnership...

Dazed Digital: How did you first come together and what made you decide to start making these images in the manner that you do?

Luigi: It happened in a very spontaneous way, we didn’t plan it. I was a photographer and Luca used to model for me; when we started our love affair two years ago, it just made sense to reverse our energy and our relationship into an art project. One other reason is that we’d been modelling as a couple for other photographers, but we wanted real control on our representation in order to express our view and find an aesthetic where we could really reflect ourselves. So we started to take pictures of us ourselves. Photography is the way we talk about themes that we care about. Our primary need is the quality of the image and the idea beneath.

DD: Why is it that you don't use any external crew?
Luigi and Luca: ‘Cause it’s all about the two of us. Assistants on the set would be a problem, I do not like to deal with people, it’s distracting. I want the final image to be a product of our strength without any external help. Everything begins and ends in the intimate space that exists between us that is mental more than physical.

Actually we do not even meet on the real set, our images are a collage of different images; we set the tripod then I take pictures of Luca and Luca of me. I create the final image, the one we had in mind, in the editing process by choosing and shaping all the elements according to my vision. The place where we meet is an ideal space that doesn’t exist in reality but just in our minds. We are image manipulators but that doesn’t mean, especially after what I just said, that we find our manifesto in digital photography’s new possibilities, even if that is our elected medium. Actually, our process is similar to the one used in England in the late 1800s by the fathers of pictorialism, Gustaf Rejlander and Henry Peach Robinson. That’s our reference in the history of photography if I have to choose one.

In our process we are avoiding the description of the contingent and the casual elements that we don’t control cause we want to reflect an idea and a deeper representation of the reality. Most of the situations in our photography are staged and they don’t even exist on any set (except the ones were we have sexual interaction), but that doesn’t mean those situations are fake; they are even more real and pure.

DD: Since you like to be in total control of your images, how did it feel to be photographed by Holger and styled by Robbie?
Luigi and Luca: It was interesting be on the spot of the ideas they came up with. In this case we were in their hands, and we liked the results they got. The concepts were brilliants, beside the ones published on the magazine we did many others. It was like seeing ourselves from another point of view. It was fun, they did a good job.

DD: How much of your work is informed by wanting to deliberately push the boundaries?
Luigi and Luca: Well, as I said intimacy is where our creative processes start and it’s the place where we like to represents ourselves. People are more real in their intimate behaviour, and sex is something we always think about, I guess like everybody else. Our images just reflect the way we are without having those censorship problems that don’t belong to us.  

We don’t think that the majority of so called “erotic photography” is that interesting. Usually it just plays with the viewer, suggesting a sexual act that it doesn’t show; that’s a dishonest bogus sexuality, because it plays safe, walking on the boundaries but at the same time suggesting what’s going on from the other part of the wall. What’s the point of doing that? We do not think we have to respect boundaries we don’t have if we had to talk about how we are. We just represent what we like. But sex is never the fulcrum of our images, it’s just an honest beginning of our poetics.

I don’t want to say that we like images just because they are explicit, for example I think that Terry Richardson’s work was interesting for the first 5 minutes. He shows an ironic and lucid sex that is bogus as well, and it seems it just wants to be funny and irreverent. We like the images where sex is something serious, and poetic. In general it’s hard to point out contemporary artists that we consider really inspiring to our creativity.

One of our latest work “Don’t you smell? Dad is dead” is about our situation as young artists that have had a hard time to recognize a model or an inspiration in the recent past or present. We feel like orphans, as if we haven't found any valid artistic fathers.