WEDDING INVITATIONS

All over the world political, social or religious conditions complicate love-relations between young people. We have come up with a few examples of relations that didn’t end up with a happy marriage, but with violence and death. These stories are fictional in the sense that we have written them but they are real in the sense that they are based on real situations, real conflicts and real violence. These stories combined with our collages of documentary photos are sent as wedding invitations to art galleries. They are wedding invitations to a dark room.

Current exhibition project to be finished February 2020 sponsored by the Danish Ministry of Culture.       

RUSSIA – Maksim and Yelena

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 where young people are manipulated to self-mutilation, scarification and eventually committing suicide. A “mentor” of such a group, 22 years old Filipp Budeikin, stated while being arrested in St. Petersburg that the 15 teenagers he had manipulated to commit suicide were “biodegradable waste worthless for society”. Among them where the 17 years 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.

GERMANY – Jacob and 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 made a decisive goal and 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.

DENMARK – Mathilde and Ahsan

The attitude towards immigrants in Denmark is very negative. The large majority of the Danish population simply doesn’t want any foreigners to settle down in their country. The xenophobic attitude also marks the political parties where politicians compete with harsh anti-immigration proposals. This attitude is eventually also reflected on a person-to-person level where aggression against foreigners is a daily phenomenon. Ashan U. a 19 years old Syrian man fleeing the combat between the government and ISIS near Palmyra managed after three years to get a residence permit in Denmark. He studied engineering at the Copenhagen University. One night when he walked home from the cinema together with his Danish girlfriend Mathilde R. he was beaten by a gang of drunken xenophobic youth. Ashan died later from the injuries and according to the Danish police the attackers “could not be found”.

IRAQ – Kasim and 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, today they are rear and often lead to conflicts and violence. The example of the young Shia Kayoosh H. and her Sunni boyfriend Kasim J. in the Kurdish region of Iraq shows how dramatic the situation can be today: The 17 years old Kayoosh was subjected to an “honor killing” by her own brother. The local Kurdish authorities accept the rights 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.

PALESTINE – Baseem and 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. Some times relations or love affairs between Israelis and Palestinian youth develop in spite of the tense political situation. A dramatic example of such a relation is that of the Palestinian Baseem H. and the young Israeli soldier Ahron J. that had a very secret love affair. At a Palestinian demonstration against the occupation they suddenly find themselves in the arms of each other, Ahron as a soldier with a machine-gun and Baseem with a stone in his hand. He was arrested.

SYRIA – Basam and Azia

During the Syrian civil war tension have been nourished between the country’s many ethnic and religious groups turning the war more and more into a multi-polar religious conflict. Relations between young people from different ethnic and religious communities are today rear. The attempted marriage between the 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.

SYRIA – Aslan and 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 adventure to get to the only hospital left in Aleppo with a maternity ward. But when Aslan and Yezda should leave the hospital with their baby the hospital came under attack from airstrikes. Several bombs struck the overcrowded hospital. The young couple had to flee with their baby. She died from the injuries some hours later. They had given her the name Dunia. It means “life”.

ISRAEL – Daniel and 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 pressures 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.

PHILIPPINES – Patricia and 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 show that police routinely execute unarmed drug suspects and then plant guns and drugs as evidence. By 2019 an estimation of 20,000 people has been killed, also children. The 17 years old student Christopher G. was shot down and killed by police without warning. He was walking home from school beside his girlfriend in the western city of Bolinaro. His girlfriend, 16 years old Patricia C. later told her parents that she was just chased away by the police. Christopher had never taken or sold drugs, he wanted to study medicine.

IRAN – Arash and Darius

Since the foundation of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 until 2018 an estimated 8000 young men have been executed on charges of homosexual acts. Iran is one of 10 countries in the world where homosexual acts are punished with death. This summer 19 years old Arash T. and his 18 years 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’ 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.

REPUBLIC OF VENICE – Romeo and Juliet

The city of Verona had been taken by Venetian troops in 1405 and became a 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 get the deal. In this dramatic situation the young Romeo Montague secretly marries Juliet Capulet, both 14 years old. Two days after the wedding the hostile families find out about the unauthorized liaison and the young couple commits suicide together.

THE WORLD – Me and 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 that 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.