Bring back The Pansy Project’s Facebook page

// 22 May 2010

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Pansy_150.jpgManchester-based artist Paul Harfleet started The Pansy Project when he began to revisit various city streets to plant pansies at the sites of homophobic abuse.

A string of homophobic abuse on a warm summer’s day was the catalyst for this project. The day began with two builders shouting; “it’s about time we went gaybashing again isn’t it?”; continued with a gang of yobs throwing abuse and stones at my boyfriend and me, and ended with a bizarre and unsettling confrontation with a man who called us ‘ladies’ under his breath.

Paul decided that planting a small unmarked living plant at the site would correspond with the nature of the abuse: a plant would continue to grow, as he did through his experience. As he says:

Placing a live plant felt like a positive action, it was a comment on the abuse; a potential ‘remedy’.

The species of plant was of course vitally important and the pansy instantly seemed perfect. Not only does the word refer to an effeminate or gay man: The name of the flower originates from the French verb; pensar (to think), as the bowing head of the flower was seen to visually echo a person in deep thought. The subtlety and elegiac quality of the flower was ideal for my requirements. The action of planting reinforced these qualities, as kneeling in the street and digging in the often neglected hedgerows felt like a sorrowful act. The bowing heads of the flowers became mournful symbols of indignant acceptance.

Each pansy’s location is named after the abuse received and the project consists of the website, photographs and installations at sites of homophobia. In the five years since he began The Pansy Project, it’s been embraced by many in the gay community, who see it as way to deal with an experience shared by many. To my mind, the idea that art – living art – can challenge the brutality and ugliness of hate is actually quite beautiful and looking through the website, I think it’s hard not to be moved by it.

And yet, earlier this week, Paul’s Facebook group page was summarily removed by the site’s administrators on the grounds that “it transgressed their regulations”. Although Paul has requsted clarification from Facebook, none has been forthcoming. He has now set up a new page – Bring back THE PANSY PROJECT now – which he’s using while he waits to hear back from Facebook.

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Curtsey to Earwicga for the heads-up

Image via Wikipedia

Comments From You

Jilly // Posted 23 May 2010 at 11:41 am

I really like this idea and I cannot imagine why Facebook have taken it down. They don’t remove all the anti women things – so why this?

quiet riot girl / Elly // Posted 23 May 2010 at 1:57 pm

I love the Pansy project. I wonder if it was taken off facebook because it mentioned ‘homophobia’ . But there are groups on facebook like ‘smack a slut week’ which you would have thought might have triggered a filter system too. I wish them every success.

Catherine Redfern // Posted 23 May 2010 at 3:05 pm

This is a fantastic, positive project and concept. Love the idea. Hope it gets sorted out soon…

Bell Bajao Fighting Domestic Violence // Posted 24 May 2010 at 6:39 am

This is an extremely positive and unique initiative. It should definitely come back on facebook…so that more awareness about this project can be made.

Kez // Posted 27 May 2010 at 12:35 pm

I suspect the reason Facebook has taken the page down is because the pansies are named after the homophobic abuse received in each location – so, the (obviously, by its very nature, highly offensive) language involved in that has triggered Facebook’s system. However it shouldn’t be beyond Facebook to understand that the context in which this language is used means the group itself is not offensive, and reinstate it.

I certainly hope they reconsider, I have been reading Paul’s blog and found it very moving.

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