Lesson | Mystery man

Gianni MottiThrough a story of a mystery man ( a real-life artist Gianni Motti) based on his photograph and a list of his controversial art projects students encounter a new grammar point.

Click here to download the activity

Click here to download the PowerPoint slideshow

You can use this grammar story to introduce:

  • present perfect for life experiences (used as an example here)
  • conditional clauses type II
  • future forms
  • modals of probability

1. Show students a photo of Gianni Motti without disclosing his true identity. You can use one of these unrevealing images:

2.  Ask students to work in groups. Put the following questions on the board or dictate them to students. Students answer the questions in groups, judging exclusively by appearances.

Would you like this man to be your: 

A.      next door neighbour? Why (not)?

B.      teacher/boss? Why (not)?

C.      family doctor/GP? Why (not)?

D.      best friend? Why (not)?

 3. Put the headings below on the board. Get students to work in the same teams and create a general profile of ‘the mystery man’, including the data below. Encourage wild guesses.

 NAME & SURNAME:     …

AGE:                                        …

NATIONALITY:               …

PROFESSION:                 …

PERSONALITY:               …


4. Reveal that ‘the mystery man’ exists before you do a whole-class pause-and-predict activity.

(NB: At this stage you may want to use the downloadable PowerPoint slideshow attached with this activity idea.)

  • If you choose to use the PowerPoint presentation, get students to read out loud chorally the text displayed on each slide and have them guess the missing information. Change the slides to proceed.
  • If you prefer the tech-free version, appoint a student to read out loud the short text about ‘the mystery man’ (see below). The reader`s task is to pause at the points marked below. As he/she does so, the class should guess the missing facts. (NB: You may want to call out the names of guessing students to avoid the chaos of choral answers.)

Alternatively, divide the class into two teams and turn the task into a group competition: have each team give their own answer and award points for the correct/nearly correct guesses.

The Mystery Man`s  name is=== Gianni Motti.

He was born in ===1958 in Italy.

He lives in ===Geneva.

He works as=== an artist.

He tries to ===attract attention to his art.

He wants to ===disrupt the ordinary life.

He has a lot of ===provocative artistic ideas.

5. Display (on the attached PowerPoint slides) or dictate the true/false statements below.

 1.       He has/hasn`t asked police officers in uniforms to act as his sculptures in an art exhibition.

2.       He has/hasn`t hired armed US snipers to patrol a gallery during his exhibition.

3.       He has/hasn`t asked daily newspaper photographers to include him in all the pictures published in one week.

4.       He has/hasn`t joined a professional football team on the pitch without telling  them first.

5.       He has/hasn`t sent an official letter to the government to say he is responsible for earthquakes.

6.       He has/hasn`t staged his own fake funeral.

6. Students work in pairs. They discuss which facts  about Gianni Motti`s artistic actions are true. Make sure each person notes down the chosen answers.

NB: You may choose to tweak the questions to adjust to the grammar point you want to introduce (e.g. conditional type II:  How would the public/ the media/ critics react if he …?; future forms: Is he going to …?; etc. )

7. While students are busy talking, take note of the mistakes they make in the target structure but do not interrupt with corrections. Collect the language samples for future use but let students take a plunge and enjoy the conversation.

8. Now it is time to own up and reveal the truth. Tell students that Gianni Motti has already performed ALL of the artistic actions mentioned in point 5. (That should be a bit of a shock or at least may take some students by surprise.) At this point you may want to introduce a freer art-related discussion activity to get students even more engaged in the topic.

 Sample discussion questions: 

  • Which  of  Motti`s actions might cause/might have caused controversy in your country? Why?
  • Which of them do you find the most ridiculous/fascinating/embarrassing? Why?
  • What is the role of a contemporary artist? Why?
  • Would you pay to visit Motti`s exhibition if you had a chance? Why?/Why not?

9. Use the examples of the target structure in point 5 or the language samples produced by students to introduce the target grammar point.


You can find more information about Gianni Motti and his art projects here:









VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iZzR4ic3es

VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUkYfcPAodM


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