Once upon a time the most profound of friendships occurred. A meeting of two great minds, eager to embark upon a journey that witnessed the birth of stage masters Ricci/Forte. Like identical twins or two halves of the very same self their creative power lies in an ever indulgent admiration for the other. In their own words: “Stefano (Ricci) is the armoured part of the couple, the philosopher who writes more quickly on the laptop. Gianni (Forte) is the less methodical one who would like to add something else to Stefano’s implacable stances”. They are rarely satisfied, as the problem between them “is never not being able to write, but to actually stop rewriting”. Neither can fall in love with their sentences or words because the other always undoes it anyway. The partnership is hard work, but absolutely and always gratifying. In this case the triumphant collaboration is one that has continually produced the most challenging works, provoking and tearing apart too many contemporary taboos.
Modern day Brothers Grimm, Ricci/Forte construct hyper intelligent puzzles assembled from disturbing fragments that fuse myths and reality, illusions and facts. Their work is bold and moving, set in an unspecified reality that provokes both consciousness and the sub conscious, that hazy instant before waking where one is not aware of what is reality, truth, sincerity or otherwise. Questions of repressed sexuality, desire, rebirth and the future of mankind are merely some of those proffered to the public in anticipation that one might reflect honestly on such issues, freed from dogma, creed and hypocritical beliefs.
We humans are such peculiar creatures. Yearning for sexual pleasure, longing and aching, even starving for it. But despite such pleasure sex is so often a no go zone for far too many, never genuinely discussed, analysed or debated anywhere but behind the closed bedroom door and certainly never in the public arena. We all fuck. We all come. We all kiss. We all glory and we all regret and yet so rarely do we ever talk about it. Why do so many still find even the slightest mention of coitus so embarrassing? Or fellatio? Would it be more awkward to talk about pleasures that an engorged male member, full, throbbing and priapic may grant us than talk about a five course feast? Sex like food can and does afford the greatest of pleasures. Why on earth should feed me be any different than fuck me?
One could relate to Feud of course and blame forever our upbringings, the religious, social and cultural codes implanted in each and every one of us. Or one could be less academic about it and be grateful for the invention of the Internet. A decade ago the virtual world barely existed and yet now we live in a cyberverse of chat rooms, dating sites, free porn and networking platforms where even the most private wishes can be granted and indulged if so one desires. The internet has brought previously unimaginable freedom of expression. It has changed our ways of communicating forever by introducing new realities that can be experienced by all from the comfort of their homes, their bedrooms, even their phones. Virtual existences where one can get horny, dwell, shop, build and even become a millionaire, are now everyday realities. Networking systems proliferate more and more. Making “friends” is just a matter of a simple click and like. But how real are these experiences, friendships, connections? Does one risk grievous isolation and social exclusion while believing the opposite? What is the notion of time today? What and when is today? Can one have a successful virtual career as well as a real one? Are we sexually less frustrated now, or have we become nothing more than a generation of voyeurs and masturbators?
Times are different now. The days are gone when sex was a clandestine fixation on a recent past, a secret story, a public toilet, a seedy alley on the corner of a market place, a train station where pleasures of the flesh could be exchanged for hard cash. Artists, writers, filmmakers and poets are not strangers to lovemaking. But that is the fictional world, not the real one. So why should art freely indulge in when the public allegedly cannot? Why should an explicit sex scene from a film be acceptable when sharing the details of a personal affair is not? Surely people should be able to talk about sex publicly, or can they already? Can and should one accept the differences of others regardless of gender or sexual preferences? Are we willing to accept that humans are all different and therefore in need of and entitled to unique experiences?
Too many question and never, ever enough answers. But then perhaps that is why such social and psychoanalytical dilemmas lie within the lyricism and humour of Ricci/Forte. Constantly reinventing language, using imagery and objects that belong to previous and contemporary generations, they present – both on the physical stage and the virtual arena – a mastery of the impudent, immodest and unnerving. Subjects that many still may find uncomfortable unfold while Stefano and Gianni rewrite their own unique dictionary where nudity and sexuality proffer quite startling new definitions. No shame merely an honest necessity rooted deep in us all. Ricci/Forte invite us to take pleasure in and liberate us from the hypocrisies of the past.
Time to stop writing. Time to stop reading. Surrender, indulge, devour and be devoured by Ricci/Forte.
Text: © Predrag Pajdic, November 2009. This is the English version of the text that will appear in Italian in the book “Ricci/Forte Mash-Up Theater” published by Editoria & Spettacolo. The editor of the book is Francesco Ruffini and the cover is by Chris Von Steiner. COMING SOON!
Images: © Lucia Puricelli, Mauro Santucci and Lisa Sudhibhasilp