Alexia Villard

We are so happy together

The UK visa’s procedure for a non-European spouse, civil partner, and unmarried or same-sex partner of a British citizen or EEU citizen is a laborious administrative process.

However this particular visa appears to be subtly more complex than any other. In addition to the various legal requirements, it holds an extra section: « on your relationship » within which the applicant is asked to « prove » the sincerity of its couple. Among various details, the applicant is also required to provide « any other documents which will support the existence of his/her genuine relationship » Under this category, the majority of applicants would choose to submit everyday photographs, copies of texts messaging, emails, or even videos.

The « case » will then be processed by a machine of humans from which the right (or not) for the applicant to remain or enter the UK will be issued.

As a photographer, I was particularly interested by the role given to photography in such application.

In We are so happy together, the portraits are inspired by everyday intimate scenes. I chose to stage visibly those moments, introducing my partner and myself inside the different rooms in our apartment. The portraits come together with documentary photographs of exchanged love notes.

The idea was to create the documents that we’d submit inside an imaginary visa application, illustrating literally the home office’s requirements. The work reclaims the trivial images that could have been taken consciously in the matter of such application. On the other hand, the photographs of love notes are completely documentary; they wave between the portraits like a respiration, contrasting with the rigid angry faces. Together the work stresses out the oddness of such a demand as well as the intrusive aspect emerging from the whole process. In the end, the documentary became real and vice versa.

What you would you do if tomorrow the government ask you to convince them on the existence of your relationship? Which image would you choose to persuade them of your integrity?

It seems like the Home office is opening a whole new aesthetic debate on the status of photography. As if the UK governmental immigration service was interested in challenging the concept of the medium.

Or maybe they are simply desperate romantics, collecting existing proofs of love…

© Alexia Villard 2015

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