Artists in dialogue: Creative approaches to interreligious encounters


  • Ruth Illman The Donner Institute


Dialogue (Theology), Religions -- Relations, Arts, Art, Art and religion, Artists, Philosophy and religion, Buber, Martin, 1878-1965, Lévinas, Emmanuel, 1906-1995, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Creativity, Pluralism, Religious, Postsecularism


This article explores the forms and functions of contemporary interreligious dialogue by focusing on artists who are active in this field. They represent different art forms and different religious positions: with their roots in Judaism, Christianity and Islam they have opted for a variety of positions, ranging from traditional adherence to renunciation of a personal religious engagement, or a fascination for new forms of religiosity. The aim is to critically examine interreligious dialogue and to provide an alternative perspective on the topic, based on both theoretical and empirical analyses. The article seeks an understanding of how persons engaging in creative forms of dialogue formulate a dialogic worldview in a religiously plural and post-secular context and what motivates them to engage in dialogue. Traditional normative theories of interreligious dialogue are hence called into question. Critical attention is brought to the narrow focus on dialogue as a purely intellectual quest for making the religious other, as a coherent theological and historical entity, intelligible. A contrasting view of dialogue as a question of interpersonal ethics is introduced, inspired primarily by the philosophy of Buber. Also the works of Habermas, Gadamer, Levinas, Løgstrup, Wittgenstein and Gaita are central to the research.Ruth Illman is a senior researcher at the Donner Institute in Åbo and Docent in comparative religion, Åbo Akademi University. Website:

How to Cite

Illman, R. (2011). Artists in dialogue: Creative approaches to interreligious encounters. Approaching Religion, 1(1), 59–71.