Grayson Perry: Rites of Passage TX: 23 Aug 2018, Week 34


A four-part series that sees Grayson Perry explore the landmark events in all of our lives –Birth, Coming of Age, Marriage and Death. He will work alongside people who are going through those universal experiences with the aim to try and reinvent these rites of passage so he can mark and celebrate them for modern secular Britain.

In a major departure for Grayson, each episode sees him experiencing an extraordinary rite of passage in a number of worldwide societies – journeys well outside his usual comfort zone. These include the beautiful and haunting birth ceremony in Bali, a visceral coming of age ceremony amongst the Tikuna people of the western Amazon, a traditional Shinto wedding in Urban Japan, and the unique death rituals of the Toraja people of Indonesian Sulawesi, involving mummified human corpses and buffalo sacrifice.

Grayson believes in the power of ritual to help make sense of our lives, and thinks we are in danger of losing our way when it comes to marking those important moments today. In today’s Britain of divorce, blended families, gay marriage and an ageing population with advances in technology changing the patterns of our lives, the traditional ceremonies don’t always fit with the way we actually live. He has decided that he is going to help people devise their own.

Having experienced these incredible and unforgettable rituals he works alongside two individuals or families in each of the four episodes who are going through the same stage of their lives as the indigenous people he’s met. Each story will culminate in a ceremony devised by the people in collaboration with Grayson – a ceremony to which Grayson will add his own artistic contribution.

In the Birth episode he’s working with a Yorkshire couple who are having twins by means of a surrogate, but are determined that the surrogate mother and her family should be an important part of the new twins’ lives. For Coming of Age, he’s working with teens from a tough Peckham estate struggling to steer their own path to adulthood. In Marriage, he’s helping an interfaith couple devise an event that helps them satisfy both sides of their ethnic inheritance – and also devising a ceremony for a divorce. And in Death, he’s helping a man with a terminal motor neurone disease diagnosis stage a celebration of his life which he can actually be present at.

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