PROJECT APOLOGY EXHIBIT AT JOHANNES STEGMANN GALLERY / SASOL LIBRARY / UFS

Thank you for viewing the exhibit. If you wish to provide feedback or share your response, please do so in the comment box after this post or send an email to paul@paulroux.net.

If you are interested in compiling your own apology or in hosting an apology workshop, you can also contact me at paul@paulroux.net. I would love to hear from you.

Please feel free to browse earlier posts below and leave comments as you wish, yet it would be appreciated if you would share your comments about your experience of this specific exhibit here, in the comment box directly below this post. Thank you.

27 comments

  1. Great effort to do this but somehow I’m left a bit hollow when you apologize to ‘caged creatures’…can one apologise to one who is incarcerated and hope that when one walks away that the apology has been accepted? The greatest apology to any ‘caged animal’ is to SET IT FREE…I enjoy when you apologise to creatures in the wild but not when you go to a Zoo and apologise…secondly `i think in African traditional religion we have ‘RITUALS’ to make right things which have gone wrong so if your apologies where to become ‘ritual-like’ perhaps I would also connect and feel that you’re sincere…for now, I feel even more distanced…what is the use of a verbal apology to an inanimate being?? – Tonderai, University of Free State

    1. Thanks for your comments Tonderai. Please excuse the long delay in response.

      In terms of the cages, I couldn’t agree with you more. I would have liked nothing better than to set these animals free, and especially the Gorillas, who were miserable. Yet can you imagine a full size male Gorilla running around suburban USA? And, to illustrate the point, a Gorilla in captivity currently will have a much longer lifespan that the few remaining in the wild. I still agree with you wholeheartedly though – the facility that your comments were based on was particulalry heartbreaking. There is another side to this coin too, which is that such facilities, when properly and humanely managed, facilitate much needed interaction and education, which is ultimately essential to conservation.

      You raise an important issue too when you differentiate between apologizing in the wild vs at a zoo. You mention that you prefer it when I apologize in the “wild”. If you really think on it, the truth is that there are few corners of the earth that are not a cage for non-human species, as our impact ever and ever encroaches on the rights and territory of fellow beings who have just as much right to pristine, undisturbed environment as we do. This figurative cage is a shitty reality yes, yet it is only through the acknowledgment and acceptance of that reality, in my humble opinion, that we can move through and beyond it.

      Did you know that lions in the wild (according to an article entitled Wild lions nearing extinction – 5 April 2013) are in danger of going extinct in the wild by 2020 without significant intervention? Trophy hunting, habitat destruction and human encroachment, poaching, deliberate poisoning by farmers as well as pesticide use in crop farming are all part of the problem. Leopards, cheetahs and, of course, Rhinos are in the same boat.

      This emptiness that you mention is sometimes a part of the intentional mechanics of the project. I am deliberately using satire and comedy to personify our prevailing lack of synergy with our natural heritage in order to engage in this reality, which often manifests as a internally as a feeling of emptiness. Personally, I feel that it is important to engage at the emotional level in the reality of our impact on the planet as the starting point for potential action, mass-awareness and healing – that we have to move through this emptiness and pain, which means feeling it first, as a vehicle to a deeper connection with the natural heritage that is the birthright of us all, and of all the creatures with which we share our beautiful planet. If we all felt the pain of our earth, then we would be in a better position to implement new behaviours that are more in keeping with natural and universal law, and it would be much harder to sustain the older problematic mindsets. So I am using this emptiness as a vehicle with which to engage people in a novel way in the reality of our times. The reality is not going away and it is quite serious, especially if one accepts that we are all connected, because then we are essentially killing ourselves as well as our fellow beings with whom we share the earth. In some cases I am deliberately over-exaggerate my persona for dramatic effect, or am deliberately flippant – in order to emphasize that emptiness or dissonance – which thus also becomes a metaphor for the separation between humanity and the planet that the project is focused on. While all the apologies are underpinned by a sentiment that is earnest and heartfelt, I further like to set those that are immediately more earnest, direct and heartfelt against ones that are seemingly flippant and exaggerated on the surface as a means for further expanding this emptiness.

      In terms of African traditional religion, I would love to hear ways in which you think such ritual might tie in too delivery of an acknowledgement/apology.

      Thank you very much for your comments again.

    1. Hi Liezl,

      It is hard to discern on here whether you are being facetious or not? Action of course is important, yet what is really needed to make a dent in the reality of our impact, is mass acknowledgment of that impact, at the feeling level. For me, the two (action and emotional acknowledgment/feeling) go hand in hand. Certainly I am schocked that you don’t have a recycling system as recycling is a booming business of the future. On the subject of rubbish, or trash, check out this link http://www.chrisjordan.com/gallery/rtn/ – and this one too – http://5gyres.org .

      Best wishes,
      Paul

    1. Thank you Mine. Yes, the intention of the project is to engage in conversation about the scientific reality of our planet in a more subtle and emotional way. While I often use drama, satire and exagerated persona for effect (towards the above objective), the underlying sentiment is certainly always earnest and, as such, each apology is sort of like a prayer that is seated in the acknowledgement of our impact.

  2. I believe what you guys do is very important and i hope it raises awareness about our earth and how everything is interrelated and interconnected. Please keep it up, continue to make people aware that even though we are the dominant species, we should be big enough, human enough to take care of the earth and every living creature.

    My best wishing

  3. Could you make it part of the Bloemfontein Rose Festival in October. You have me in tears. Please contact me. My number is at the gallery.

  4. i really just want to thank you for starting this apology project cause everyone is always so quick to jump to blame and point fingers at who is at fault ,but forget the bigger problem which is human kind and our ” development ” as a whole.. thank you for inspiring that spirit of asking for forgiveness . i hope everyone take note and action through apology and not blame ..

  5. This concept is very spiritual like it connects us back to our human nature back then when telepathy and the art of talking to animals was still rich in our brains. Very amazing.

  6. Walter

    This concept is very spiritual like it connects us back to our human nature back then when telepathy and the art of talking to animals was still rich in our brains. Very amazing.

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