How are rituals reflected by performance art, and how has performance theory influenced the thinking about rituals?
This analysis follows the hypothesis that ritual and performative works of contemporary art have a common ground in their action, aesthetics, and habitus.The interdependencies between performance theory, performance practice, ritual practice, and ritual theory, are analyzed on the basis of exemplary performances.The investigation is carried out through Arnold van Gennep's theory of rites of passage, Victor W. Turner's concepts of Liminality and Communitas, and key concepts of ritual dynamics. It examines where a transfer of ritual processes and ritual knowledge into the exhibition space takes place. The role of gesture, body, the use of different media, rhetorical methods, and how Agency is distributed between ritual specialists and other actors is also discussed. European and American artists, such as anthropologists, have continuously exoticised certain practices as ‘shamanic’, violently subjecting them to their own interpretation. With the emergence of post-colonialism, essentialist ways of thinking are breaking apart and being reflected upon – which is also echoed in art production. This thesis traces the importance of ritual and performative set-pieces that are placed on the stage of art where they undergo a dynamization in form, content, and meaning.
Diploma-exhibition, Semperdepot, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna