Tom Tom Founders Festival 2017
Kluge-Ruhe explored the meaning of the word “sorry” in an interactive collective dialogue “sorry wall” at the Tom Tom Founders Festival. Participants wrote things they were sorry for, or not sorry for, on stickers which were then placed on a large fabric wall. The project generated thought and dialogue about the use, meaning and impact of the terms “sorry” and “sorry not sorry” globally, nationally, locally and personally.
In the United States and Australia, the word “sorry” is used in a wide variety of contexts, from innocent actions like accidentally bumping into a stranger to national responses to long-standing racial injustice. In 2008, the Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, used the word “sorry” to formally acknowledge the historical and ongoing oppression of Indigenous Australians as a step toward reconciliation. Contemporary Aboriginal artist Tony Albert created a large, text-based work called Sorry in response to this apology, highlighting the superficiality of the word when it is unaccompanied by social and political change. In Australia, National Sorry Day is observed on May 26th to recognize the Stolen Generations, thousands of Aboriginal children who were forcibly removed from their families and communities as part of assimilation programs between 1910 – 1970. Recently, “sorry” has also taken the opposite of its meaning in the slang “sorry not sorry,” which is used to express a lack of regret or apology.