From Les Pensées De Paul to Pansy Mouth…
From a portrait by photographer Malc Stone taken in 2011, an idea arose that has gone on to have multiple incarnations. The image transposed the concept of The Pansy Project onto a portrait of the artist. The idea evolved into an online poster campaign, became a visual tool that brought together a community and featured in Les Pensées De Paul, an award winning documentary directed by Jean-Baptiste Erreca. The feature length film starring Paul Harfleet was commissioned by Canal+ , produced by Bangumi and broadcast on national television in France in 2015.
Une Pensée Pour Tous
Une Pensée Pour Tous is the name of an event that took place on May 17th 2015, devised to be part of the documentary ‘Les Pensees de Paul’. This action brought together members of the public to simultaneously put a pansy in their mouth at the foot of the Eiffel Tower as a political statement against homophobia, as in 2014 the location was the site of a massive protest against the legalisation of gay marriage.
This act was a direct reference to a photograph taken by Malc Stone in 2011. The photographer initially approached Harfleet with the idea of putting a pansy in his mouth for a portrait. Stone’s idea visually described the artist’s floral tribute through portraiture and became a catalyst for a social media campaign. This led to a growing collection of playfully political ‘posters’ that spread awareness of The Pansy Project and the homophobia it marked. But rather than planting a pansy in the soil where homophobia had occurred the pansy was digitally ‘planted’ in the mouths of whichever homophobe had gained notoriety at the time.
The ‘Putin, Put a Pansy in it’ poster (bottom) was the first and was shared over 100,000 times via The Pansy Project’s social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. The artist was continually depicted with a pansy in his own mouth as Stone’s photo was published frequently. This is where the duality of the campaign lies. With Une Pensée Pour Tous the focus was on the people in the real world placing a pansy in their mouth as a pledge to never let homophobia pass their lips and as a silent statement and demonstration against the homophobia that had occurred at the location previously.
It’s this, that the primary photograph of the artist by Malc Stone suggests. As a participant of Une Pensée Pour Tous puts a pansy in their mouth, they made a pledge never to speak a word of homophobia. The intention of this visual statement of peace and resistance echoes strongly with the original concept of The Pansy Project. For the social media campaign the artist puts a pansy in the mouth of a homophobe digitally, he is visually ‘wishing’ that the homophobe had made that pledge. Therefore the initial idea by Malc Stone has been taken and developed into an antonymous ongoing body of work by Paul Harfleet, from the poster campaign to the portraits taken below of the participants for the film by Xavier Lahache and by the artist himself.