June 23 2016, the UK wrote a significant chapter in the history of Europe
voting to leave the European Union. The official break-up contract is still
unclear, just like our life and future in the UK.
Brexit was voted, I felt like I belong nowhere. Since
I was born and raised in another country I arrived in London for a better life,
full of dreams and hope for the future. After the referendum, I felt for the
first time being exposed to racism and stereotyping. I was looking for a new
job back at this time and it was scary listening to the phrase “without a
British nationality I am not sure if you will get an interview these days”.
the economy, the employment and the population Brexit has an impact in many
other aspects of our life like Love. No one could think that love follows rules
but in this case the greatest feeling might make an exception.
Have you ever thought that love will be affected by Brexit too? And if yes, at what level?
An answer to this question is given by Laura
Pannack and her collection of portraits called Separation. This collection
tried to capture the uncertainty and despair between couples that might be
forced to stay apart because of the upcoming Brexit regulations. The portrait
series was held by British Journal of Photography.
couples that took part in the portrait series, are the ones with different nationalities, one
half of each is British and the other is coming from another European country. The idea
of Separation is based on the difficulty that these couples may face planning
their life together in the UK and the bureaucracy rules they have to follow.
emotion of sadness when someone else is taking over your relationship is the
main reflection of the portraits.
published photographs from the series and a few words from each couple telling their
Giulia and Stuart
Italian and Stuart is British. The couple met at work. Communications Manager, Digital Consultant and Sound
Artist respectively were planning to get married in the future but the Brexit
reality forced them to change their plans, forget about the romance and become
husband and wife in order to reserve their common life in the UK.
Giulia and Stuart. © Laura Pannack.
is their story:
“We spent the first six months of our relationship
trying to keep it secret from our colleagues. In the morning Stuart would drop
me off at the back entrance to the office,” says Giulia, who moved to the UK
from Italy over 10 years ago. “We later discovered that everyone had known all
along. It was the worst-kept secret.” The couple used to live in London but
recently relocated to Oxford. Stuart still works in the capital and commutes to
and from it every day.
was devastating. Stuart changed jobs so he could work on the Remain campaign in
the digital creative team. The experience of facing a majority Leave vote,
after six months of working 12-hour days, was indescribable. I have felt different in the UK since
the referendum result was announced, and markedly less welcome. I moved to the UK
straight after graduating through a six-month work placement, ironically funded
by the European Union. Six months quickly became one year, and here I am ten
We were planning to
get married at some point in the future but Brexit hurried us along. We got
married six months ago in the hope that it would provide extra security in the
UK for me, and also so Stuart could start applying for Italian citizenship. We
are both actively looking for jobs in Italy so we can move there as soon as
possible. Ideally we want to be out of the country by the time Brexit has had
Mirjami and Adam
Mirjami is Finnish and works as Graphic Designer
and Adam is a British support worker. The couple met on Tinder.
They confess that they felt the Brexit gap between
Mirjami and Adam. © Laura Pannack.
think we both swiped right because I had cats in my photos and he had ‘cat
lover’ in his profile description,” says Mirjami. The couple spent their first
date drinking wine in a carpark in Hackney Wick, a mutual decision after both
complained about how expensive the area was. “On our fourth date, I stayed over
at Adam’s house and found his old travelling journal,” says Mirjami. “I read it
aloud, in front of him, and it turns out, 80 percent of what he wrote was about
eating chicken nuggets. I think I fell in love there and then. Adam was
apparently attracted to my bluntness and morbid sense of humour. We just
complemented each with our quirks.” Adam and Mirjami have been a couple for two
and a half years. They now live together in Walthamstow with their feline
Mirjami: When Brexit happened, I took it
personally. I come from an immigrant family and had been exposed to racism and
stereotyping throughout my childhood. I was born in Finland but my parents are
Chinese so I’ve always felt like an outsider. When I moved to London, I felt
like everyone came from elsewhere for the first time; everyone looked
different, everyone felt like they belonged. That made me feel like I belonged
After the Brexit
vote, I felt that same feeling I had felt as a kid, like I’m not wanted and I’m
just a nuisance to the locals. That made me bitter and angry and I felt this
massive gap between me and British people. As Adam himself is British,
sometimes I felt that gap between us too, even though he did not feel the same
way. Adam also resented the referendum result, but he has always remained nonchalant
in his belief that it won’t have any bearing on our relationship and future.
Giacomo and Glenn
and Glenn is a gay couple and they decided to live in London because of its
attitude towards being gay, they felt free and happy.
Giacomo is Italian, working as a library manager
and Glenn is British Australian working as primary school teacher. They live in
Giacomo and Glenn. © Laura Pannack.
cheesy as it sounds, it was love at first sight,” says Giacomo. “When we met up
there was no expectations – dating websites are mostly used for quick hook-ups
– but against all odds we fell in love. After 11 years we are still
together.” Glenn and Giacomo’s love of the capital is deeply personal.
“We both came to London because of its positive and progressive attitude
towards being gay,” says Giacomo. In 2017, the year that marked the 50th
anniversary of decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, Glenn and Giacomo
Giacomo: When we heard the results of the EU
referendum we felt betrayed. It was as if a curtain had been lifted and we
could now see Britain’s true colors.
Brexit made us feel as if the UK is not as tolerant, welcoming, or open minded
as we had believed that it was. Perhaps we were lucky, and blind to this,
because we live in London, but we always thought that the richness and
uniqueness of England was in part due to its multicultural society. I thought
British people valued European immigrants and how they contribute to the
development of the economy and society. But, with the results of the
referendum, we felt undervalued and deceived.
are married, but applying for a British Passport is very costly and requires hundreds
of documents and forms that frighten me. One of the most disappointing things
is that my husband will not be able to live in Italy with me, or any other
European country. That right has been taken away from him. Against our wishes,
we have had to abandon our plans for the future, which we made before Brexit,
as it is very unlikely that we will be able to live and travel freely between
Love is stronger than any political decision and so
real that cannot follow passport rules.
It is funny that Great Britain gave birth to
Shakespeare, one of the most romantic writers in history and today Brexit
doubts the power of love and spreads the fear.
As Shakespeare wrote:
Doubt thou the
stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.
Portraits from Separation were published on British
Journal of Photography.
Photographer: Laura Pannack. Assistant: Jacob Schühle Lewis. Junior assistant:
James Greenhalgh (winner of the Separation competition to shadow Pannack
on-shoot). Editorial: Anya Lawrence. Set: Karina Valentim. Studio: Street
Studios. Equipment: Direct Digital. Software: Affinity Photo for iPad.
Separation is a British Journal of Photography commission created with
Affinity Photo for iPad, Apple’s App of the Year 2017. Please click here for
more information on sponsored content funding at British Journal of Photography