Bate-Bola - Rio Secret Carnival 2007-2018

Rio's suburban futuristic, sweet & violent clowns erupt during carnival. 

When the focus of the carnival is set on the glamorous Sambodrome and its tightly rythmed samba parades, curious creatures overflow the overlooked suburban streets of Rio, rekindling life in these forlone areas. The phenomenon set in motion dazes the eye. It truly follows the tradition of street-art: vivacious, inventive, ever evolving. It is here that lies Rio's carnival's real originality. Yet this favela-born expression continues unacknowledged by the Brazilian media and high society.? It is difficult to understand how such a loud and bright movement could remain muffled. Bate Bola, or "hit the ball" in Portuguese is indeed loud and bright. Each year, gangs soaring up to a thousand members orchestrate their much awaited "Saida" (exit in Portuguese) in a flamboyant mise-en-scène, thus presenting the year's new theme and costume design. Much like thunderous hounds, these bright clowns roar through the suburbs thrashing their ball on the ground, seizing the senses. They both delight and terrorize screaming children all at once, much like a rollercoaster ride.?Yet in spite of their manly tribal performance, their costumes are oddly feminine. Their dresses' bright colors and exaggerated volumes actually make them look like over-sized lollipops. The tainted plumes, Disney-like drawings on the shiny materials add to their irresistible appeal, while the peach or strawberry perfume they copiously splash on constitutes the final touch of an almost unbearable sweetness. (..)

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During June & July 2016, for the first time of a half century of existence of the Clovis / Bate-bola culture, an exhibit took place in the heart of their territory; the gallery of the SESC-Madureira. Not only a photography exhibit, but also complete outfits and masks, debates & lectures.


Back in 2015, at the CACP-Vila Pérochon in the town of Niort, France, I had an outdoor show of this series.