S:PAM Lecture #36: Barbara Raes

18-03-2021 from 18:00 to 20:00
Zoom. You'll receive a participation link upon registration.
S:PAM - Studies in Performing Arts & Media

Studies in Performing Arts and Media regularly invites scholarly and practice-based researchers to give an open lecture and present their latest research under the umbrella of 'S:PAM lectures'.

Beyond the Spoken: Rituals for Unacknowledged loss.

For the 36th lecture, we welcome Barbara Raes, former programmer and artistic director of BUDA (Kortrijk) and Vooruit (Ghent) and currently doing artistic research on rituals


Beyond The Spoken believes that while our society is increasingly fearful, alienated, agitated and sometimes even paralysed, there is also an increasing sense that something may be missing. There are many people looking for meaning, security, togetherness and new forms of collective consciousness. This becomes especially prominent during the moments of ‘small transitions’, such as personal or professional crises, traumatic experiences or major changes in one's life (e.g. surgery, burnout, the end of maternity leave, resignation, etc.). Transitional rituals can help individuals and groups live meaningfully through such transitions and it is likely that they will remain an essential part of human life, no matter what shape our society might take. This lecture explains our need for new rituals in new times, explained through the practice and experience of Beyond the Spoken.
Our society has been deritualized over the past few decades. This crisis comes most sharply into focus with transition rituals surrounding death: we have and are not allowed any time to grieve and we lack the tools to contextualize the mourning process. The fact that so many people eventually crash is often due to unprocessed, unrecognized ‘little funerals’ of life. Barbara Raes founded in 2016 Beyond the Spoken, a workspace for unacknowledged loss, where she cocreates with artists new farewellrituals. In this lecture she will talk about a big transition moment in her life and how that was the drive to develop a new place between art, care and rituals.


Barbara Raes worked as a dance curator and artistic director for arts centre Vooruit (Ghent) and the arts centre BUDA (Kortrijk) between 2000 and 2014. In 2014 she took part in a transiency-programme by FoAM (Brussels) as a way of reorienting herself. FoAM is a transdisciplinary network that works at the interface of art, science, nature and everyday life. Within this context, Barbara was trained as a ‘ritual celebrant’ in Totnes (UK). Ever since she sees her work as mediating between the arts, care work, rituals and moments of farewell. Since 2015 she has been working as a researcher at the art academy KASK, The Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Ghent) on the project Open end.This is a multidisciplinary research project to develop new mental and physical spaces for rituals of farewell. In addition, Barbara Raes founded her own organisation Beyond the Spoken,a workspace for “unacknowledged loss”. In Beyond the Spoken she creates farewell rituals with artists and looks for answers to the contemporary demands of a society in transition. Raes links her research around farewell, care and ritual with the arts field in curating projects around these themes. These projects took place at venues such as Kaaitheater, Vooruit, BOZAR, Theater Aan Zee, PACT Zollverein, Dublin International Theaterfestival and Hebbel am Ufer.