BETWEEN US: THE MARRIAGE - JUNE 2016 (CONTINUOUS STATE OF DEVELOPMENT)
In collaboration with Anyuta Wiazemsky Snauwaert
We are married. However, between us, there was no love at first sight. There would have been no marriage without the lines that are currently drawn on the political map of the world, without laws who are limiting human freedom of movement.
None of this would have happened without postmodernist art, without an artistic mindset like ours, which says, “yes, let's go for it!” None of this would have happened, had we not met. We are quite sure though, that within the confines of these circumstances, this time and space, this here and now, we wouldn’t have married anybody else but each other.
Our wedding took place in Ghent (city hall) on the 3th of August, 2018 at 11am in the presence of our parents, family and close friends. Our wedding party started at 7 pm that same day at Theater Aan Zee festival in Ostend. With our family and friends, but also with a theater audience, who could attend our wedding party by buying a ticket.
We married to obtain a residency permit for Anyuta (means), but with the clear intention to establish a sustainable communitylife (purpose). The latter is the most important requirement for a legitimate marriage, according to the Belgian law.
There is no romantic love between us but between us, there is understanding, respect, care and tenderness. Between us there is equality, usually a shared sense of humor and unconditional trust. There is realistic love between us, as sociologist Eva Illouz describes in The Lost Innocence of Love, or fluid love as philosopher Zygmunt Bauman calls it. Between us there is a focused reality, carefully balanced on the verge of a hole in time.
Just like any other couple, we try to figure out what we are, what exactly it is we form together, obtaining this sustainable community life. Does it mean tolerating each other in the bathroom at the same time? Is it one person baking pancakes for the other, or making a cappuccino with a failed heart in the steamed milk during quarantine? Is it the help and support of one person when the other gets angry about how to write grant files?
What is expected of us as married people? To what extent do outside expectations influence our relationship? How relative or just rigid is all this? The core of our work is an attempt to curate our love for each other. To reflect on what that love should mean. We roam between (neighbor) love and empathy, traditional values and principles, between staying and the fear of disappearing.
The documentation and the experience of our marriage, emerging from this process of forming a sustainable community life, forms the basis and inspiration for a broad artistic oeuvre of installations, texts, performances, videos and objects.
Since our decision to get married in 2016, we recorded police interrogations, conversations with family, interviews by the migration cell, our joint household ... All this together forms a narrative, a report, an archive, but above all a constant questioning of ourselves within the existing social constructions. The work is certainly personal, but as a publicly shared life's work it is also essentially artistic, political, social, poetic.
Although artist Pawel Althamer discussed the term "directed reality" in the light of participatory art, it is for us the perfect description of how we want to approach our work: Our premise is conceptual and clear, its realisation unpredictable. Meaning there is a reciprocal relationship between reality, which is the engine of our work, and our work, which greatly influences and changes reality. The development of our intersubjective relationship is one within which fiction and reality merge.
We strongly believe it’s our conflicts and differences as individuals that make us visible, and the suppression of them that make us invisible. It's our differences and conflicts that reveal our "common ground" as a couple, community and as a society.
© Yourri Mishin
© Mario Debaene