18.01.08 — 16.02.08 ‘Mea Culpa’, Ryan Ras

Ryan Ras, with the participation of Paul Jackson, Hannah Coulson, Sara Crow and Jonny Pilcher.

After Ken Livingstone was recorded asking Evening Standard’s Oliver Finegold if he was a German war criminal, he was forced to publicly apologise and acknowledge that his words were inappropriate. This incident inspired Ras to compile The Incomplete History of Public Apology: 1900-2005, a conceptual piece that took the shape of a book. Ras researched all instances of public apology and then interpreted his data graphically in such a way that it animated a whole range of questions: What are the implications of saying “I am sorry” publicly? Has there been a historical change in the perception of public apology? To what extent do politics determine the nature of the ritual of publicly accepting responsibility for wrongdoings?

Mea Culpa is a site-specific project that has evolved from the artist’s initial enquiry. On Ras’ invitation, participating artists have contributed written and visual narratives, performance, film and audio work. Their participation in the project has radically expanded its parameters to include a whole spectrum of concerns existent between the act of apologising and that of forgiving. Ras investigates this difficult and highly contentious space between the two acts with humanism, wit and intelligence.

Ryan Ras was born in Zimbabwe in 1980. He studied at the Royal College of Art and lives and works in London.

The exhibition is accompanied by an introductory essay by Olga Smith. Read the essay here.