Exhibition Celebrating Gay Couples Gets Vandalized and Stolen in France

The actress Eva Longoria is one of the celebrities featured in the project.

An image from "Les Couples Imaginaire
Photo: Olivier Ciappa's Facebook page

An exhibition of photos of models and celebrities, including actress Eva Longoria, as gay couples has been repeatedly vandalised in Toulouse, France, and, in a cruel final twist, the entire show stolen.

Since being hung on November 30 on the railings of the city’s Grand Rond park, the exhibition “Les Couples de la Republique,” featuring the images created by artist Olivier Ciappa, was vandalized several times.

According to Le Monde the first attack was carried out by six youths of ages between 18 and 20. The youths claimed afterwards that they held Catholic beliefs and intended to protest the promotion of that “way of life.”

Ciappa’s “Les Couples Imaginaires” series, first exhibited in 2013, sought to change attitudes by showing famous faces as members of alternative families, at a time when the law permitting same-sex marriages was being debated in France.

An image from "Les Couples Imaginaire Photo: Olivier Ciappa's Facebook page

An image from “Les Couples Imaginaires.” 
Photo: via Olivier Ciappa’s Facebook page.

The outdoor exhibition, intended to mark the 10th anniversary of the French LGBT Association L’Autre Cercle, was all but ruined as the vandals spray-painted the faces of those in the images and torn out large sections of others.

“To attack a photographic work to defend opinions is highly condemnable. City #Toulouse will therefore file a complaint,” tweeted Jean-Luc Moudenc, mayor of Toulouse, in reaction to the acts of vandalism.

Undeterred, Ciappa and the organisers decided to reprint the damaged images and restore the exhibition so that it could remain on view to the public.

Shockingly, following an announcement that the exhibition would go up again on December 8, it was discovered that all the photographs had been stolen from the exhibition site, as reported in Le Figaro. With no photographs to show it is unlikely that the exhibition will continue.

Eva Longoria et Lara Fabian featured in "Les Couples Imaginaires."<br />Photo: via Olivier Ciappa's Facebook.

Eva Longoria et Lara Fabian featured in “Les Couples Imaginaires.”
Photo: via Olivier Ciappa’s Facebook.

Ciappa took to Facebook yesterday to express his anger: “All the new photos reinstalled in Toulouse have been stolen!!! The first time, they wanted to show their displeasure. The second time, they have totally decided to erase the expo so that no one in Toulouse can see it. By stealing all the photos, nothing is visible, as if the expo did not exist. Not only were the old photos vandalized […], all the new panels that were installed yesterday by the town hall have also been taken!”

Refusing to be censored, Ciappa is now posting all the images from the original series—showing fictional gay couples, single parent families, and families living with disabilities—on Facebook and he is asking people to share them so they can be seen by as many people as possible.

There has been talk of the exhibition being reinstalled in an enclosed space, but no formal announcement has been made at this time.

France is gaining quite a reputation for vandalizing contemporary artworks. Last year, Paul McCarthy was beaten over his public artwork Tree, which was also vandalized and taken down. This year, Anish Kapoor’s Dirty Corner sculpture, installed in Versailles, has been vandalized repeatedly.

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