I have just returned from Iceland where The Pansy Project is part of the Reykjavik Arts Festival 2008. 'Journey' curated by Björn Roth is a joint venture of three art institutions in East Iceland. The Skaftfell Centre for Visual Art, Slaughterhouse Culture Centre and Eider Art Centre all presented group exhibitions. My work was part of the group show housed in the ‘Slaughterhouse’ Culture Centre in Egilsstaðir. In the continuing exploration of contemporary homophobia I presented ‘Hanged’ a new installation made in response to the recent controversy surrounding the execution of two teenagers. Mahmoud Asqari and Ayad Marhouni were publicly hanged in ‘Justice Square’, Mashhad, in Iran in July 2005 for engaging in homosexual behaviour. The following is the accompanying text:
For this exhibition the artist has created an installation of pansies at the entrance to Slaughterhouse, initially appearing to be a simple civic celebration of spring, the flowers take on new symbolism when the audience views a selection of photographs of pansies planted by the artist in London and Berlin to memorialise homophobic violence.
In July 2005 Mahmoud Asqari and Ayad Marhouni were publicly hanged for engaging in homosexual acts. Subsequent images and video recordings of their hanging were posted on the internet causing Amnesty International and Human Right Watch to condemn the Islamic Republic.A small drawing taken from the many images that appeared on the internet is placed in one of the large rooms of the Slaughterhouse. The drawing process acts as a humanising strategy revealing the personal contemplation of this state sanctioned execution. Simultaneously the relocation of the image from computer screen to exhibition space enables the profundity of the event to be considered in a location once associated with death which has been transformed into a place of art and culture.
The exhibition preview took place on 17th May which coincided with IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia). The preview was attended by various luminaries including Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson the Icelandic President (above with me!). A special thanks to Curator and Manager of Slaughterhouse, Kristin Scheving.