About the project

The Story Sofa // This I Confess was an audio-art installation at the 2016 AfrikaBurn Festival whose concept was simple: Sit down, relax, listen to a story, or share your own.

The installation was a pop-up living room in the desert with two main sections: (1) The Story Sofa (site coming soon!) – a red sofa, with a built-in speaker that played stories 24/7, and (2) This I Confess – a table with a trunk of notebooks, cards, and pens, in which we invited festival-goers to write their own confessions or personal stories.

The project is by Werner van Rooyen and Charlotte Lau.

The story behind the stories

The Story Sofa // This I Confess morphed many times along the way.

Originally, it was just called “This I Confess” and was designed as an anonymous confession booth, in which strangers would speak to each other without seeing each other.

Then, audio became part of the project, and it became a recording booth.

Then, it became like a voting station where you would slide in your written confession into a box.

Finally, we decided to combine the audio and written elements together, in a cohesive living room.

After listening to a few stories, people would move off the sofa, onto the floor pillows to share their own stories. The next group of passersby would sit down on the sofa, facing the writers, and start a dialogue. The living room would become, indeed, a living safe space for all lovers of stories.


About the curators

After just a few days of knowing each other, Werner and Charlie took an 8-hour road trip together. On it, they played an (almost embarrassingly) earnest version of 20 Questions. Werner talked about the inner struggles about “coming out” as an atheist to a devoutly Christian family. Charlie talked about suddenly losing her father, when she was just a teenager. The answers –indeed, the stories– felt intimate, important, and universal.

Indeed, most personal stories do.

It’s why Werner and Charlie have independently (and jointly) loved storytelling for a long time. Charlie is a narrative nonfiction junkie, Werner is an arthouse/documentary snob lover, and they are both podcast fiends.

So when it came to deciding on an AfrikaBurn art theme, stories were the clear place to begin.

Want to participate?

We’d love for the Story Sofa // This I Confess project to continue past AfrikaBurn! If you’d like to host an event where you would like to collect stories or confessions, please feel free to reach out. We’d be happy to provide materials or scan/publish your notebooks afterwards.

Get in touch at hello@thisiconfess.org

Other recommendations

If you enjoyed This I Confess, check out similar art projects, including:

If you enjoyed The Story Sofa, check out our Afrikaburn playlist (coming soon!), check out similar projects, including: