French photographer Olivier Ciappa vandalism
French photographer Olivier Ciappa vandalism

French Drunkards Repeatedly Deface, Steal LGBT Public Art

French photographer Olivier Ciappa’s had a pretty rough month. An outdoor exhibition of his romantic photographs in a Toulouse park has been targeted repeatedly: first by vandals who spray-painted over his images and then by thieves who ran off with the work.

Ciappa’s photos — a series entitled Les Couples de la Republique — features non-traditional families in loving poses. Primarily, this means gay and lesbian couples, although his series also features disabled couples and single parents with their children. A second, related series features celebrities like Telenovela star Eva Longoria and French actress Melanie Laurent in imaginary same-sex couples.

The photos are hardly scandalous — they’re softcore at best — but the mere sight of same-sex couples angered a group of teenage vandals. “It was a group of six youths, 18 or 20-years-old,” an eyewitness told newspaper Le Figaro. “They claimed to be Catholics and said they were ‘against promoting this way of life.’” The images had been spraypainted with HONTE, the French word for “shame.”

The city paid to have the photographs reprinted and rehung, but the very next day the images were stolen. “The first time, they wanted to show their displeasure,” Ciappa said in a Facebook post. “The second time, they have totally decided to erase the expo so that no one in Toulouse can see it.”

The city reprinted the photos a third time and hung them in a different location, Jardin Raymond VI in the Saint-Cyprien neighborhood, where they remained through last week. Late last Tuesday night, a hired security guard had to chase away individuals that newspaper La Dépêche describes as very drunk, who were trying to steal the photos.

@larafabianofficial et @evalongoria #lescouplesimaginaires #imaginarycouples

A photo posted by Olivier Ciappa (@olivierciappa) on

#lescouplesdelarepublique #imaginarycouples

A photo posted by Olivier Ciappa (@olivierciappa) on

@zenattifamily et Sophia Essaïdi #lescouplesimaginaires #imaginarycouples

A photo posted by Olivier Ciappa (@olivierciappa) on

@jeniferofficiel et @vahinagiocante ##lescouplesimaginaires

A photo posted by Olivier Ciappa (@olivierciappa) on