A portrait series by Laura Pannack
Separation is a series of 13 portraits that explore the angst and myriad emotions experienced by London-based couples who, as a result of Brexit, have been forced to contemplate separation. Brexit has long garnered column inches for its political implications, but what does it mean for love?
We were planning to get married at some point in the future but the referendum result hurried us along” – Stuart and Giulia
The couples that feature in Separation are all of different nationalities: one half of each is British and the other half from elsewhere in Europe. The nationalities of the featured couples are: British, Italian, Finnish, Bulgarian, Spanish, Polish, Swedish, French and German.
At least one half of each of the couples featured in Separation works in London’s creative sector, a diverse and thriving industry that has long been a draw for Europeans moving to the capital. The job titles of the couples include: film programmer, arts tutor, sound artist, graphic designer, animation designer and professional drummer, amongst others.
View the full series on the Brithis Journal of Photography at www.bjp-online.com/tag/laura-pannack-brexit
Jana (German) and Luke (British)
Jana: We love London. Despite being financially squeezed, we managed to buy a small two bedroom flat in Islington. It is is our home and gives us everything we need to live a happy life in London. We are part of the local community and have made many friends. Our daughters are going to nursery and school here and we don’t really want to move.
After the referendum we thought a lot about relocating our family to Germany, and we still do. Although the UK is our home, the uncertainty, not only with my status, but also with the UK economy, has made us consider a move. There is so much instability in the UK and a lot of stability in Germany. Our lives there would be more predictable and more secure. Our German community has also shrunken drastically. Out of the eight local families we used to meet regularly, six have moved back to Germany. This is not all down to Brexit but it was definitely a contributing factor. Britain’s future out of the EU will be bleak; I can already feel it crumbling around me.
Nadia (Italian) and Paul (British) Photographer, tattoo artist
Nadia: I had a view of Britain as a multi-cultural melting pot that accepts everyone and embraces difference. When the referendum result was announced, it was clear that the reality is very different. I am sad that this nice country, one that once accepted the world, is closing its doors, but at the same time I don’t feel pushed away by the vote. Brexit means that Paul will need to marry me so I can stay in the UK.
Paul: I voted Remain. In a world already so divided, the idea of Britain going at it alone does not seem right. The referendum result was a surprise for me. After living in the UK my whole life, and growing up surrounded by a mixture of cultures, I am open to the world and what it means to have cultural differences. I hope that the decision to leave the European Union was not just about immigration and border control.
Mirjami and Adam
Graphic designer, support worker
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 here too.
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.