Art and Ritual

Participatory art shares a boundary with ritual. Where does one end and the other one start?

Ritual reconnects community, reminds and renews. It ‘guides’ a community. It strives to create a framework for a messy individual life (baptisms, weddings, funerals…). The study of ritual as practice defines ritual as “set of activities that construct particular types of meanings and values in specific ways.”, it is a “vehicle for construction of relationships of authority and submission”.(Bell 1997, p.82)

Participatory art questions. It makes the participants reconsider, examine their feelings and thoughts about something. This can include reminding. It doesn’t necessarily nurture a community or expect faith.

A good example is Tania Bruguera, she points to something we all know and prefer not to look at. Here she talks about her participatory piece ‘Surplus Value’ exhibited in the Tanks-Tate Modern in 2012.


Art and ritual have deep connections, their paths have crossed many times. Yet, they have subtly different roles.

Reference list

BELL, C.M., 1997. Ritual. New York [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press

Art and Ritual