ABOVE: Project Apology – ‘Communal Pond Apology’. Video Still from Project Apology.
Project Apology is an ongoing video documentation of an undertaking to apologize, in person and as a self-appointed member of humanity, to non-human species on the planet that are being adversely affected by human activity. Obviously such a mandate includes every last living creature and, as such, presents a very tall order, the unmanageability of such an undertaking becoming a big part of its content as a piece of art. The project’s intent is to use satire as a means to deliver a serious message in an unconventionally and ‘amusingly’ palatable, yet provocative manner – in attempting to come to terms with, morally and spiritually, the human implications of our current scientific reality (evidenced, for example, in the current rate of species extinction documented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature – IUCN).
Project Apology aims to engage the viewer/participant in the scientific reality of the contemporary moment in a novel way. Of course, the issue of our severe and escalating impact on the planet sometimes seems trivial in a world where hundreds of millions of people have nothing to eat and more than a billion do not have access to clean water. The spiritual and ethical implications of our impact on the planet aside, to me these are equally important challenges because rapid population and industrial growth will continue to have an escalating affect our own sustainability in various ways – from food production, through to climate change and water quality. And just as there are more than enough resources on the earth for every person to have more than enough to eat and to live comfortably, so are there enough resources to ensure that all beings have access to their birthright of a pristine ecosystem in which to flourish.
The scientific reality is that we are in a period of mass extinction and that, as part of a single greater symbiotic ecosystem, we are ultimately endangering our own survival. And so, to me, the act of apology, though intended partly as a satire of contemporary humanity, is also an acknowledgement of our common humanity and of our true nature as part of the single global ecosystem. Project Apology is thus also an apology to ourselves, an acknowledgment of ourselves.
ABOVE: Project Apology – ‘Lion Fish’. Video Still from Project Apology [ongoing project – begun 2007).
After an initial power-point introduction to the project, participants will engage through the act of apology with the myriad manifestations of life with which we share our planet, both individually and as a group. This experience will be introduced and facilitated by myself and all participants will be asked to refrain from talking with each other during this time.
After this period of reflection and acknowledgment, participants are asked to spend half an hour translating their ‘field’ experience verbally and visually, on an individual basis and while maintaining relative silence. Paper and drawing/writing materials will be provided.
Standing or sitting around the responses, we will then have the opportunity to share our experiences as a group. After around half an hour or so, or once everybody has had the opportunity to share their experience, we will close the workshop with a moment of silence for all the wonderful creatures with who we share our beautiful planet.
In some cases (if possible according to site facilities and limitations) after processing our ‘field’ experience, it may be appropriate to translate the experience into an additional series of temporary artworks in/on the earth, preferably near the site (this can be done on paper too if there is no suitable and appropriate ground with which to work) – using organic material such as sticks and grass; as well as natural water-based paints and mineral pigments; and possibly recycled pieces of paper and found objects.
As a relic of the experience of acknowledgement that Project Apology espouses, works are then photographed and can be reproduced as a souvenir in print form for participants. Once the earth drawings/ murals/ or works on paper are complete and photographed, the found and organic materials can then be removed and the rest left to the elements to take care of, or washed away – at the discretion of the site and/or organizers.
Participants will be able to write down their email addresses to receive a photograph of the finished responses and to create an online record of the event that can also serve as a portal for ongoing dialogue and action.
We have found that it is best to allow extra time for insight overflow and to keep the process organic. As such, our ideal process is to tailor-make each workshop in collaboration with the host organization. Generally the workshop can fit into 3 hours or even into 2 hours, yet it can also be extended into one or two days. The possibilities are endless.
The workshops are generally video-taped and photographed and the documentation used by Project Apology in showcasing the event – so media release forms must be signed by all participants.
Because of the nature of the event, which is about honoring all life, it is recommended that younger children be supervised, so that they do not disrupt the experience for others and so that they have emotional support.
Adults are advised that the project does delve into some sensitive areas in terms of the scientific reality of human impact on the planet and the moral and spiritual implications of such impact. Therefore, it is recommended that younger children at least be supervised. In our experience it is often adults who need more emotional support than children with this workshop!
Paper and drawing/writing materials will be provided, but feel free to bring your own ideas and materials.
POINTS ABOUT INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT:
I would ask the host organization for initial assistance and/or introductions in arranging the workshops for local children, teens and adults who wish to participate.
It is always useful, even advisable, to have a couple of extra supervising adults around to help me ensure that all runs smoothly where workshops are concerned.
It is also always great if the workshop can be documented with both film and photography by volunteers and/or by on site media/PR representatives.
Outside of specific workshop events, occasional volunteer help with photo documentation on additional apology outings, is always appreciated.
To arrange a workshop please contact us: