Antwerp Pride, in collaboration with the Antwerp Queer Arts Festival (AQAF), is bringing The Pansy Project by British artist Paul Harfleet to Antwerp. Twenty violets or pansies will be “planted” – pasted – at the Oudaan police tower, the headquarters of the Antwerp Police.
All over the world Harfleet plants pansies in or near places where a homophobic crime has taken place.
Violets are also called pansies and “pansy” is also a derogative term for homosexuals. Like “sissy”.
By planting the small flowers in places of aggression, he wants to confront the horror of hate crimes with beauty.
Because of the pandemic, The Pansy Project in Antwerp has a different, more symbolic interpretation.
Since international travel is not recommended, it was difficult for Paul to travel to Antwerp. Instead of real flowers, he has graphically designed some violets. Small works of art will in this way form a powerful statement against hate.It’s also not the season for violets.
Antwerp Police pasted twenty pansies on its HQ. The number twenty is not random.
International research shows that it is estimated that only twenty percent of hate crimes are reported to the police. Eighty percent are not.
Unia, the independent public organisation against discrimanation, also speaks of underreporting in its recent annual report.
With the twenty pansies on the facade of the police building, the diversity team of the Antwerp police wants to lower the threshold and call on everyone who is confronted with a hate crime to report it.
Meanwhile, Antwerp Pride and Antwerp Queer Arts Festival are looking at other places in the city where a graphic violet can be pasted.
“We will deliver violets to places where we know that a hate crime has taken place,” says Antwerp Pride chairman Bart Abeel.
“Such as Café Strange, where owner Armand fell victim to gaybashing two years ago. A corona strikken edition of Antwerp Pride should not mean that the fight against hate crimes, whether they are homophobic, transphobic or racist, disappears in the background. We appreciate the continued efforts of the Antwerp Police in this area, but in this way we call on the various authorities to step up their efforts to fight against intolerance.”