Rite of passage

(2009) | HD video with sound, 10:00 min. in loop

A rite of passage is a ritual that marks a change in someone’s social status. Rites of passage are often ceremonies surrounding events or milestones such as childbirth, puberty, coming of age, marriage, and death.

A rite of passage consists of three phases: separation, liminality and re-incorporation. In the first phase, people withdraw from the group and begin moving from one place or status to another. There is often a detachment or ‘cutting away’ from the former self in this phase, which is signified in symbolic actions and rituals. For example, the cutting of the hair for a person who has just joined the army. He or she is ‘cutting away’ the former self – the civilian. In the third phase, they reenter society, having completed the rite and assumed their ‘new’ identity. Re-incorporation is characterized by elaborate rituals and ceremonies, like debutant balls and college graduation. The liminal phase is the period between states, during which people have left one place or state but haven’t yet entered or joined the next.

Officially, the liminal phase (derived from Latin,‘limen’ meaning border, threshold or entrance) is a psychological, neurological or metaphysical subjective state of mind, existing as a border between two different existential area’s. Characteristic are ambiguity, openness, and indecision. One’s sense of identity disappears to a certain extent, causing disorientation. It is a transitional period in which existing borders of thinking, self knowledge and behavior become blurred; a situation that can lead to new insights and perspectives.