‘Forgiveness is mad, and […] it must remain a madness of the impossible’
– Jacques Derrida, ‘On Forgiveness’
‘Making an apology […] is like initiating a first kiss. It demands bravery. It demands a willingness to be rebuffed, combined with a sturdy belief that the moment is right’
– Jay Rayner, The Apologist
‘i don’t know how to say i’m sorry’ is a video project that is centred around the question: how does one ask for forgiveness? In the face of a fractured global socio-political climate, i don’t know how to say i’m sorry asks how we might account for our actions and begin to heal. It is a socially-engaged project that unfolds in multiple parts and is co-created between myself – as the artist – and a volunteer participant.
The first part of the project consists of a conversation between myself and the participant about an apology they never received but wish they had. This could perhaps be an apology from someone who has passed away, someone who refuses to apologise or even someone who they have lost contact with. Thereafter, I work with the participant to fantasise about how this apology might take place. I encourage them to think about what might be said in the apology, where and how it might take place etc.
The second part of this project involves a filmed re-enactment of the imagined apology with me stepping into the role of the apologiser. Based on my initial conversation with the participant, I craft an apology for the participant that addresses what they need from the apologiser. I also dress up as the person and choose a location for the apology that matches how they imagine it taking place. Finally, we re-create the apology in an unscripted meeting.
‘i don’t know how to say i’m sorry’ was first conceptualised at MAKE 2019 – a week-long artist residency at the Tyrone Guthrie centre in Ireland supported by Cork Midsummer Festival, Dublin Fringe Festival, Project Arts Centre and Theatre Forum.
Funded by Singapore (January 2020)