07-Jun-2007

The Pansy Project - Berlin

I am currently in Berlin for a month. I am manning a show taking place at Axel Lapp Projects; ’Meeting Point’ is showcasing the work of ten artists that have previously shown at Apartment. As part of the show I have chosen to show a pile of 200 identical signed and titled posters that can be taken by gallery visitors. The poster then acts as a cipher to spread the word of The Pansy Project. I’m using my time in Berlin to do some research on the nature of memorials in light of the amazing monuments that are all over Berlin. An interesting debate I have come across is the argument over the Jewish Holocaust memorial. The huge majority of victims of the holocaust are of course Jewish though other minorities where involved too, including people from Gay, Romany, Black and disabled communities. Apparently there was some discussion about enabling the memorial to mark the experience of the above groups which was accepted though it was decided inappropriate to allow the gay community to be included into this memorial. There are now moves to explore other options for the memorials of specific groups across Berlin. My research continues:

Monument - Denkmal

Whilst visiting the Soviet Memorial in Treptower Park I was struck by the enormity of the space and by the position of the two sculptures of the soviet soldiers. Their bowed heads reminded me of the bowed heads of the pansies, as mentioned below the pansy was named after the French verb; to think = Penser. Interestingly the German for monument is ‘denkmal’ presumably connected with the German ‘denken’ to think. In reference to the pansy the connection that then came to be associated with ‘thoughtful’ or ‘effeminate’ men is generally seen as a negative trait; hence the derogatory term. In this context of national remembering the thoughtful man is esteemed and revered. As seen in the image below the nature of the project generally requires a viewer to look down and appear to be thoughtful whilst considering the work, this is why I chose to place the posters on the floor of the gallery (image above). In the image below the viewer is not seeing the pansies circling the bollard but his position makes him appear thoughtful. I’m interested in this appearance of thoughtfulness and its negative/positive connotations especially in relation to sexuality.

'UNERWIDERT' ~ Berlin

Above a fountain that marks a change in focus in my research; for more click here