The article is based on an account of two experiences, the Spazzi art workshops and the Wurmkos project which have worked on the subjects of art, psychiatric hardship and social participation. It looks in particular at the role of artists who, having abandoned the meaning of being the creators of their work, are called upon in these activities to cover new fields of activities: the relationship between process and product, the quality and the tension between individual and collective contributions and the use of practical, non expert, knowledge. They therefore no longer fill the role of "facilitator", which is often assigned to an expert in participatory planning processes. Theirs is rather a political role since, the traditional public dimension having been lost, politics is brought back into play as an area to depict and represent a new collective meaning.
Keywords: Art and mental hardship; participation; role of the artist.