Event Date: 

Media + Modernity Event: José Lira

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Thursday, November 17th, 5:00pm
Flávio de Carvalho: Body, Architecture, and Performance
José Lira
Respondent: Irene V. Small

On June 7, 1931, Flávio de Carvalho (1899-1973)—a restless protagonist in the history of modernism—marched in the opposite direction of a Corpus- Christi procession in downtown São Paulo, wearing a hat and challenging the emotional limits of the Catholic mass of worshipers around him. On October 18, 1956, he paraded through the streets of the city center wearing an unusual costume, which he referred to as a “new look for the summer.” Reacting to these performance-experiences, Brazilian concretists pronounced him the inventor of the happening in Brazil, and more recently critics have pointed to the anticipatory nature of his work in relation to Neoconcrete experimental exercises in freedom. This talk discusses these performance-experiences as discursive strategies that would be employed across de Carvalho’s oeuvre—not only in other works of dance, theater, scenography, and costume design, but also in architecture, urban planning, drawing, painting, sculpture, journalism, literature, theory, and even in the making of his personal image, body, and self. This “performative” dimension is a primary entry point to one of the most intriguing aspects of de Carvalho’s work and thought, that is, the constant oscillation between constructive principles and disruptive imaginaries; practical and delusional values; objectivity and fetishism; logico-scientific persuasions and a radical investment in the unconscious; and techno-social convictions and an emotional, derisive, obscene, and even perverse bias. 

José Lira is Associate Professor at the School of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of São Paulo. He has degrees both in Architecture and Urbanism and Philosophy, and holds a PhD in Architectural and Urban History. He was a visiting scholar at Columbia University and the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris-Malaquais. Among other publications, he authored Warchavchik: Fraturas da Vanguarda (2011) and co- edited Domesticidade, Gênero e Cultura Material (2016); Memória, Trabalho e Arquitetura (2013) and São Paulo, os estrangeiros e a construção das cidades (2011). 


Co-sponsored by Program in Latin American Studies (PLAS)