Luigi Moio (Naples 1975) and Luca Sivelli (Naples, 1974) had already begun their collaboration at secondary school before pursuing their collective interest at the Academy of Fine Arts in Naples where they both graduated in Decoration. After completing their academic studies, they moved to London where they began experimenting with video and performance, staging situations that wrong-footed the audience who became unwitting performers. Creating an encounter between the nudism of the models with icons of Neapolitan identity (the moka coffee maker, rum baba, pizza), mixing eroticism, irony and provocation, Moio&Sivelli (who officially became a duo in 2003) made their first videos as documentaries of performances that took place in public spaces, exploring the concept of voyeurism, inspired by British hidden camera TV programmes in the style of Candid Camera. Simultaneously the duo introduced a new material – silicon – into their own artistic practice, initially using it as a filter between the action of the model and the public and then as a tool for crystallising, sealing and thus preserving icons that are clearly recognizable but fleeting, and eventually “freezing” the monitors that broadcast videos made in stop motion.
Naked Lunch is the video that documents the performance given in the Project Room of Madre museum in 2010, part of the programme of exhibitions and events curated by Adriana Rispoli and Eugenio Viola. The “naked lunch” referred to by the two artists cites the title of the novel by the American writer William S. Burroughs, already the source of inspiration for the film directed by David Cronenberg in 1991, and represents for the artists “the frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of their fork”. The public enter the room unaware of what awaits them: they find a girl dressed only in prominent tattoos and yellow high heels who serves small rum babas, mischievously feeding the spectators who react with a mixture of embarrassment and amusement. A ballerina in a white tutu then goes to get a further supply of cakes, a task she executes moving elegantly on the tips of her toes. Various elements that had already been present in Moio&Sivelli’s early works are combined here: the rum baba with its allusive shape, the ballerina, the gesture of offering, the desire to create a situation of bewilderment by using provocation, the real ingredient of the whole work.
It represents a challenge to middle class respectability and is designed to arouse a sensation of being “on the alert” by placing together elements that reinforce each other. The intention is to wake people up from the torpor of everyday life but also to reflect, in a ruthless yet ironic manner, on the very mechanisms of the art system which voraciously consumes without conscience. As Mario Franco has observed, “Just as The Naked Lunch consists of a series of disparate texts on the author’s drug addiction and his hallucinations, the work of the two Neapolitan artists becomes the Cronenberg-like account of the process that leads to the genesis of artistic creation”.