Experience no. 2, Performed on a Corpus Christi Procession. A Possible Theory and an Experiment
Flávio de Carvalho
Published by the Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, 2020
With an essay by Lisette Lagnado
Graphic Design: Till Gathmann
14.6 × 23 cm
What kind of beast is a crowd? How does a pulsating collective body press against those within, outside, or underneath it? In what way are the powers of dissident bodies being incited today? These questions are at the core of Flávio de Carvalho’s experiment in publicly disregarding religious norms. What was Flávio de Carvalho looking for in 1931 on the streets of São Paulo when he decided to walk through the crowd of a Corpus Christi procession without removing his hat? This simple gesture generated outrage and violent reactions among the audience watching the procession—and almost led to the artist being lynched by an angry mob. Carvalho’s decision to flaunt his irreverence before a group of fervent followers was sparked by the artist’s deep interest in Sigmund Freud and mass psychology. Almost a century later, his account of his interactions with the crowd, Experiência no. 2, realisada sobre uma procissão de Corpus Christi [Experience no. 2, performed on a Corpus Christi procession], speaks to the spread of fear and hate inherent to the rise of nationalism and fanaticism all over the world.