Ritual User References

A sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and performed according to set sequence. Rituals are a feature of all known human societies. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious community.

They include not only the worship rites and sacraments of organized religions and cults, but also rites of passage, atonement and purification rites, oaths of allegiance, dedication ceremonies, coronations and presidential inaugurations, marriages and funerals, school “rush” traditions and graduations, club meetings, sporting events, Halloween parties, veterans parades, holiday shopping and more. Many activities that are ostensibly performed for concrete purposes, such as jury trials, execution of criminals, and scientific symposia, are loaded with purely symbolic actions prescribed by regulations or tradition, and thus partly ritualistic in nature. Even common actions like hand-shaking and saying “hello” may be termed rituals. (wikipedia)


On Kawara

Today, 1966-2014

On Kawara created nearly 3,000 date paintings in more than 112 cities worldwide.

I Got Up, 1968-1979

Between 1968 and 1979, On Kawara created his information series, I Got Up, in which he sent two picture postcards from his location on that morning. All of the 1,500 cards list the artist’s time of getting up, the date, the place of residence and the name and address of the receiver another series of postcards, I Got Up At, rubber-stamped with the time he got up that morning. The length of each correspondence ranged from a single card to hundreds sent consecutively over a period of months; the gesture’s repetitive nature is counterbalanced by the artist’s peripatetic global wanderings and exceedingly irregular hours (in 1973 alone he sent postcards from twenty-eight cities).

Rachel Perry Welty, Karaoke Wrong Number, 2005-2009

Allison Parrish, Everyword

Allison Parrish, Deep Question Bot

Darius Kazemi, Two Headlines

Amalia Ulman, Excellences & Perfections, 2014

On April 19, 2014, Amalia Ulman uploaded an image to her Instagram account of the words “Part I” in black serifed lettering on a white background. The caption read, cryptically, “Excellences & Perfections.” It received twenty-eight likes.

For the next several months, she conducted a scripted online performance via her Instagram and Facebook profiles. As part of this project, titled Excellences and Perfections, Ulman underwent an extreme, semi-fictionalized makeover.

Lynn Hershman Leeson, Roberta Breitmore, 1973-1979

From 1974 until 1978, the artist conceived of, constructed and ‘developed’ a fictional persona and alter ego: that of Roberta Breitmore. The creation of Roberta Breitmore consisted not only of a physical self-transformation through make-up, clothing, and wigs which enabled the occasional role-playing, but a fully-fledged, ‘complete’ personality who existed over an extended period of time and whose existence could be proven in the world through physical evidence: from a driver’s license and credit card to letters from her psychiatrist.”

Micha Cárdenas, Becoming Dragon

“Becoming Dragon questions the one-year requirement of ‘Real Life Experience’ that transgender people must fulfill in order to receive Gender Confirmation Surgery, and asks if this could be replaced by one year of ‘Second Life Experience’ to lead to Species Reassignment Surgery. For the performance, I lived for 365 hours immersed in the online 3D environment of Second Life with a head mounted display, only seeing the physical world through a video feed, and used a motion capture system to map my movements into Second Life. The installation included a stereoscopic projection for the audience. A Puredata patch was used to process my voice to create a virtual dragon’s voice, which can be heard in the video.”

Tehching Hsieh, One Year Performances


The Great White Way, 22 Miles, 9 Years, 1 Street (2001–2009)

Tompkins Square Crawl (1991)

For part of his multi-layered contribution to Made in L.A., Hill worked with artist Texas Isaiah on a kind of commemorative healing project around the city of Los Angeles. Hill ran laps around the perimeter of each school he attended, from pre-school through university: one lap for each year he was there. Texas Isaiah went with him, exploring what it means to accompany someone and bear witness.

The images that emerge from their work together show Hill running on sidewalks outside high concrete walls; standing arms akimbo outside the gates of a Neo-Gothic building; hunched over hands on knees, trying to catch his breath; sagging exhausted in a bougainvillea-lined archway. In each photograph, Hill’s body, often sweating from the exertion of his task, appears small against the institution’s scale: his body the only figure in the frame, contending with the force and scope — the rigid lines — of educational institutional power. (Hyperallergic)

Emma Sulkowicz, Mattress Piece, 2015

Begun in September 2014, the piece involved her carrying her 50-lb dorm mattress wherever she went on campus. She said the piece would end when a student she alleges raped her in her dorm room in 2012 was expelled from or otherwise left the university. Sulkowicz carried the mattress until the end of the Spring semester as well as to her graduating ceremony in May 2015.

Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller, Walks

Ayana Evans

If Keisha Jumped Off a Bridge, Would You Do It Too?, 2018

Evans makes space for her vulnerability and fears, challenging us to view Black women differently, and to more deeply honor Black women’s dreams, labor, and bodies. “My interaction and participation with audience members throughout performances are designed to break traditional boundaries between viewer and performer,” Evans said. “The physical struggles in my work represent Black pain, Feminine pain, and universal/personal pains, like heartbreak.” (Hyperallergic)

Ayana Evans, I Just Came Here to Find A Husband

“This project is the result of my frustration and desperation in my dating life. I wanted, and still want, a life partner, so badly that it hurts… I reached a point where new ideas for art performances were not even coming readily because I was solely focused on my love life. Thus, this past summer, I decided to go to events that I would normally go to hoping to find someone and tied a laminated sign on my back that stated my intention. In fitting with my usual performance practice of physical and mental endurance I walked for 2-4 hours wearing the sign (sometimes in the hot sun) all while answering personal questions, listening to romantic advice, posing for photos upon request, and explaining my performance practice.” (link)

Jae Rhim Lee, Green Urinal, 2005

Jae Rhim Lee, N=1=NPK=KIMCHI=N, 2007

Jae Rhim Lee, Infinity Burial Suit, 2016

Azra Aksamija, Nomadic Mosque, 2005

Narcissister, Every Woman (Reverse Striptease)

Cassils, Monumental

Featuring a series of bodies transformed by strict physical training regimes, Cassils’ artworks offer shared experiences for contemplating histories of violence, representation, struggle, and survival. Cassils juxtaposes the immediacy, urgency and ephemerality of live performance against constructed acts for camera. Bashing through binaries, Cassils performs transgender not as a crossing from one sex to another but rather as a continual process of becoming, a form of embodiment that works in a space of indeterminacy, spasm and slipperiness.

Jacolby Satterwhite

The Matriarch’s Rhapsody, 2012

“My practice is rooted in observation. How do I take forms and live action performance and recreate them in a virtual space? Whether you see shopping carts and I’m shopping in this space, or there’s a trash bag and you will see a big-breasted trash bag morphing monster woman…everything is rooted in how to recycle [elements from the real world into animations]. So for me, it’s a network of being a poet with data and being a surrealist and using language and spaces to kind of generate my own convoluted narratives. ” (link)

Tega Brain and Surya Mattu, Unfit Bits, 2016

Ai Weiwei, WeiweiCam, 2012

WeiweiCam was a self-surveillance project that went live on April 3, 2012, exactly one year after the artist’s detention by Chinese officials at Beijing Airport. At least fifteen surveillance cameras monitored his house in Beijing which, according to Ai Weiwei, makes it the most-watched spot of the city. He described his decision to put himself under further surveillance as a symbolic way to increase transparency in the Chinese government. WeiweiCam consisted of four webcams that sent a live 24-hour feed publicly viewable from the website weiweicam.com. 46 hours after the site went live Ai Weiwei was instructed to shut down WeiweiCam by Chinese authorities. During the time weiweicam.com was live it received 5.2 million views.

Hasan Elahi, Tracking Transcience, 2002-Present

An erroneous tip called into law enforcement authorities in 2002 subjected Hasan Elahi to an intensive investigation by the FBI and after undergoing months of interrogations, he was finally cleared of suspicions. After this harrowing experience, Elahi conceived “Tracking Transience” and opened just about every aspect of his life to the public. Predating the NSA’s PRISM surveillance program by half a decade, the project questions the consequences of living under constant surveillance and continuously generates databases of imagery that tracks the artist and his points of transit in real-time. Although initially created for his FBI agent, the public can also monitor the artist’s communication records, banking transactions, and transportation logs along with various intelligence and government agencies who have been confirmed visiting his website. (Designing Knowledge)

Wafaa Bilal, 3rdi

The 3rdi arises from a need to objectively capture my past as it slips behind me from a non-confrontational point of view. It is anti-photography, decoded, and will capture images that are denoted rather than connoted, a technological-biological image. This will be accomplished by the complete removal of my hand and eye from the photographic process, circumventing the traditional conventions of traditional photography or a disruption in the photographic program.