I was wrong.
This digital triptych takes George W. Bush’s recently released memoirs: “Decision Points” as its source material. Using a downloaded PDF version of the memoirs, I first searched the document for any instances of the phrase “I am sorry” – and found none. Shifting gears, a friend suggested that this late in the game, an apology would do little to satisfy the public opinion, and we wondered if George W. hadn’t found some other way to come to terms with the failures of his administration. I then searched for the phrase “I was wrong.” and received 4 results from the 700+ page document in which the phrase appeared in its entirety.
In the pages of the memoir itself, these phrases appear amongst very banal passages that don’t allude to any grand apology or admission of guilt from the former President. Actually, the overall tone of “Decision Points” is defensive and George W. is as resolute as ever concerning the righteousness of his actions. Seeking to present something that wasn’t there and probably was never going to come from the former President, I took three of the “I was wrong” phrases out of their context and paired them with three images, also from the book.
The juxtaposition between these very frank statements (discussing campaign debates, the economy, and new elections in Iraq) and the images, which capture the worst moments of the Bush years (Louisiana’s flooding, a wounded soldier, and a dumbfounded George W. after hearing about 9/11) create an unbelievable experience for the first time viewer. It would seem that George W. has finally spoken out against his biggest shortcomings and called them for what they were.
The release of the Bush memoirs, and subsequently the creation and presentation of this piece, come at a delicate time in American politics. The wave of euphoria that most of the country was riding following the dismissal of President Bush and the inauguration of our first black President has since died down. As many now turn a critical eye towards President Obama, once the hope for progressive reform across the board in America, the people of this country should ask themselves why it seems like things don’t really change that much from term to term.
With this piece, I hope that audience members take away a sense of wanting to hold their governments accountable. If a governing body is no longer serving the actual needs or desires of the people, then there is no reason for our continued support of such a political system.