All over the world political, social or religious conditions complicate relations between young people. Based on documentary photos we have created artworks in the form of wedding invitations. We invite you to see the horror, the cruelty and the darkness many young men and women have to endure in their pursuit of happiness and love. The stories are based on real situations, real conflicts and real violence. They are the starting point for W&A’s Dark Room.
Project sponsored by the Danish Ministry of Culture.
JACOB & GERST
In Germany attacks against homosexuals have risen the last years. Football hooligans and right wing groups but also Muslim fundamentalists are the main responsible groups behind the violence. Football is one of the most difficult areas for gay men and few have had the courage to out themselves as gay. The story of two German third League players from the club Energie Cottbus shows why. Jacob T. and Gerst A. had tried to keep their relationship secret, but at some point rumors about their relation became public and spread among hooligans. During a match against FSV Zwickau Jacob scored a decisive goal after which Lucas spontaneously embraced him in pure joy. In a flash more than 100 hooligans from Zwickau jumped roaring on the playfield and knocked them down. Gerst never recovered from the injuries.
ADMIRA & BOSKO
During the ethnic conflicts in former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 2001 an estimated 140,000 people were killed. The breakup of the Yugoslav state resulted in extreme violence, massacres and destruction. In the cynical urge for power warlords and politicians manipulated historical myths, ethnicity and religion to create reasons for untamed violence. Being in love with a person from a different religion or ethnicity was enough to get killed. 25 year old Bosnian Muslim Admira Ismic and 24 year old Bosnian Serb Bosko Brkic were lovers and tried to flee from Sarajevo. A sniper killed them on May 19, 1993, as they tried to cross one of the front lines. They were later known as Sarajevo’s Romeo and Juliet.
MAKSIM & JELENA
The Russian Federation has the world’s second highest suicide rate. The youth suicide rate is alarmingly high, especially in rural areas. Some places, like the Bryansk area, have experienced almost epidemic situations where many young people commit suicide over a short period of time. Internet-based suicide groups or “death groups” have been disclosed in which young people are manipulated to self-mutilation, scarification and eventually committing suicide. A “mentor” of such a group, 22 year old Filipp Budeikin, stated while being arrested in St. Petersburg that the 15 teenagers he had manipulated to commit suicide were “biodegradable waste worthless to society”. Among them where 17 year old Maksim Karazamov and his girlfriend, Yelena Prerovskaya, from the village of Peretin, they gassed themselves to death in an old car while holding hands.
KASIM & KAYOOSH
Iraq was a largely secular society before the American invasion in 2003. Sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia-Muslims started in 2006 in the aftermath of the occupation and the general dissolution of the Iraqi state. While inter-sect marriages were common before the war, they are now rare and often lead to conflicts and violence. The story of young Shia Kayoosh H. and her Sunni boyfriend Kasim J. in the Kurdish region of Iraq shows how dramatic the situation can be today: 17 year old Kayoosh was subjected to an “honor killing” by her own brother. The local Kurdish authorities accept the right for clans or tribes to punish a member (especially women) for committing a misguided act such as a mixed marriage. The brother was not persecuted.
BASEEM & AHRON
In Gaza homosexuality is forbidden by law and severely punished by the Hamas government. But in spite of this situation young people find ways of meeting each other through social media. There are several apps for the gay community. One interesting effect of the clandestine communication between homosexuals in Palestine is that also young Israelis take part. Sometimes relations or love affairs between Israelis and Palestinian youths develop in spite of the tense political situation. A dramatic example of such a relation is that of Palestinian Baseem H. and young Israeli soldier Ahron J. who had a secret love affair. At a Palestinian demonstration against the occupation they suddenly found themselves in each other’s arms: Ahron as a soldier with a machine-gun and Baseem with a stone in his hand. Baseem was arrested.
BESAAM & AZIA
During the Syrian civil war tensions rose between the country’s many ethnic and religious groups and gradually turned the war into a multi-polar religious conflict. Relations between young people from different ethnic and religious communities are rare today. The attempted marriage between Sunni Arab Besaam H. and his Alawite girlfriend Azia B. shows why. Soldiers from the rebel Ahrar al-Sham militia attacked the young couple in their little village of Muzayraa only because Besaam wanted to marry an Alawite girl. Basaam was shot dead while holding his girlfriend in his arms.
ASLAN & YEZDA
The young Syrian couple Aslan B. and Yezda K. had married in their home city of Aleppo in spite of the desperate conditions during the civil war. “Their love was stronger than the war!”, Aslan’s father said during the wedding. One year after the marriage Yezda gave birth to a little girl. Because of the constant shelling it had been a risky venture to get Yezda to the only hospital left in Aleppo with a maternity ward. When Aslan and Yezda were about to leave the hospital with their newborn baby the hospital came under attack from airstrikes. Several bombs hit the overcrowded hospital. The young couple had to flee with their baby. She died from the injuries some hours later. They had named her Dunia. It means “life”.
DANIEL & EFRAYIM
The Israeli Defence Forces have been accepting homosexuals with no questions asked since the 1970’s. They were years ahead of the Israeli Parliament which eliminated sodomy as a crime in 1988 and banned job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in 1991. Although homosexuals serve with everyone else in the Israeli military, many homosexuals say that in reality they feel pressured to hide their orientation. Generally speaking homosexuality is not considered acceptable in a society where strict religious values shape public policy on personal behaviour. The two soldiers Daniel G. and Efrayim S. – both 19 years old – experienced this attitude in “one of the most gay-friendly armies in the world”. They were repeatedly severely beaten and humiliated by fellow soldiers when their relation was discovered.
PATRICIA & CHRISTOPHER
When Rodrigo Duterte took over as president of the Philippines in 2016 his aim was “the neutralization of illegal drug personalities nationwide.” The president has repeatedly urged members of the public to kill suspected criminals and drug addicts. Research by media and human rights groups shows that police routinely execute unarmed drug suspects and afterwards plant guns and drugs as evidence. By 2019 an estimation of 20,000 people have been killed, among those also children. The 17 year old student Christopher G. was shot down and killed by police without warning. He was walking home from school together with his girlfriend in the western city of Bolinaro. His girlfriend, 16 year old Patricia C., later told her parents that she had been chased away by the police. Christopher had never taken or sold drugs, he wanted to study medicine.
ARASH & DARIUS
Since the foundation of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 and up until 2018 an estimated 8,000 young men have been executed on charges of homosexuality. Iran is one of 10 countries in the world where homosexuality is punishable by death. This summer, 19 year old Arash T. and his 18 year old friend Darius A. were sentenced to death “based on articles 108 and 110 of Iran’s penal code, for acts against the sharia law and bad deeds”. Neighbors said they had spotted the two young men having sex through a window in Arash’s family’s house. The two teenagers had no access to a lawyer, and the judiciary rushed through the investigations, prosecution and sentence within a month. Arash and Darius were hanged in public in Ahvaz, the capital of Iran’s Khuzestan province.
ROMEO & JULIET
The city of Verona had been taken by Venetian troops in 1405 and made part of the Republic of Venice. Its strategic location between several trade roads made Verona important for the extensive Venetian commercial activity. The two Verona merchant families Capulet and Montague were fighting for the lucrative Venetian trade offers. Their fight escalated when Venice offered monopoly on the transportation of silk to France and the Papal States. The two families were involved in killings and abductions in order to win the deal. In this dramatic situation young Romeo Montague secretly married Juliet Capulet, both 14 years old. Two days after the wedding the hostile families found out about the unauthorized liaison and the young couple committed suicide together.
ME & YOU
Biological models of love tend to see it as a drive similar to hunger or thirst. Love is influenced by hormones, neurotrophins and pheromones. How people think and behave in love is influenced by their conceptions of love. The conventional view in biology is that there are two major drives in love: sexual attraction and attachment. Attachment between adults is presumed to work on the same principles that lead an infant to become attached to its mother. Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone who has died, to whom a bond or affection was formed. From an evolutionary perspective, grief is perplexing because it appears costly, and it is not clear what benefits it provides the sufferer.