On October 20, 1980, the artist Allan Bridge put up posters around New York City stating: "ATTENTION CRIMINALS, BLUE COLLAR, WHITE COLLAR
You have wronged people, it is to people that you must apologize, not to the state, not to God. Get your misdeeds off your chest! Call APOLOGY".
The posters listed a phone number and overnight the line started ringing with callers wanting to talk. Allan had set up a telephone answering machine in his loft apartment, and recorded all the messages. So began the Apology Line. What began as a modest experiment would continue to run for the next fifteen years, attracting tens of thousands of callers from all over the world. Eventually it grew into the world's first virtual community.
From the outset, the Line received more than confessions and apologies. Protected by anonymity, callers used the line to express the lonely, hidden parts of themselves, their secret thoughts, activities, fixations, obsessions, and yearnings. The telephone and answering machine system created a safe space where people felt comfortable sharing those aspects of their lives that would normally be concealed. The Apology Line became a modern day confessional and protected zone of free expression, and a large community of callers grew within it.
The original Apology Line ended abruptly in 1995 when Allan died in a scuba diving accident in Long Island, NY. Now we re reviving this ground-breaking project by launching the new Apology Line.