A Man Called Love
29 August–17 October 200929 Aug–17 Oct 2009
Tamar Guimaraes’s fascinating and poetic slide-show A Man Called Love (2007) tells the true story of Francisco Candido Xavier (1910–2002), a Brazilian psychic medium who dedicated his life to writing down the words spoken to him by the dead. The most prolific psychographer of all time, he wrote over 400 books. In the 1960s and 1970s, he was a celebrity in Brazil, drawing large crowds whenever he appeared in public. His novel Our Home (first published in 1944 and continually in print ever since) describes a city where the recently deceased learn and work. It goes on to narrate a tropical vision of social democracy, describing a town with magnificent squares and benches for a million people, where delicate flowers grow amid illuminated fountains. For Guimaraes, speaking of Xavier requires addressing Brazil’s race and class relations, and its military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985, during which Xavier enjoyed his greatest popularity. She addresses the development of spiritism in Brazil, its early association with utopian socialisms, and subsequent distancing from them during the dictatorship. A Man Called Love makes use of archival images of Xavier, of spirit materialisations produced in the 1930s and 1940s in Brazil, of Rio and Sao Paulo, and of protests against the military regime in the late 1960s.