Love Jouneys

The Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council (AGMC Inc.) invites you to the opening of Love Journeys, a mixed-media exhibition on Gay and Lesbian migration to Australia. Five queer couples open their doors and share the stories of their migration to Australia. Love Journeys establishes a narrative parallel between personal experience and administrative frameworks, inviting the viewer to reflect on the complex interaction between our emotional lives and how authorities define and interpret our relationships.

17 JANUARY - 06 FEBRUARY 2011

Opening Night: Tuesday 18 January 2011, 6.30pm to 8.00pm
Artistic Direction: Julien Leyre
Photography: PuiYing Joy Chung
Exhibition Set Design: Keanyen Chin

Love Journeys is a Midsumma Festival premier event, sponsored by the city of Port Philip, Alliance Française, Joy FM and Studio HBD.

An interview with Julien Leyre, Artistic Director


How did you come up with the idea for the "Love Journeys" exhibition which will be presented as part of the Midsumma Festival this January?

Well, first, it’s an exhibition about me: I migrated to Australia about two years ago with my partner Philip. The exhibition presents five similar stories. But it’s not only that. Originally, there was a surprise: when I applied for a visa, Philip and I had to tell our story together and describe our relationship on paper. It’s one of the necessary pieces of evidence for the application. Since there is no official contract – no recognised gay marriage in Australia – the government has to base itself on this ‘couple narrative’, among other things, to establish that a relationship is authentic. As a writer and a linguist, that got me thinking. And then, beneath the surface, I think I’m also questioning this change whereby being in a couple has become a sort of new homosexual norm, and what the consequences are in terms of self-narration.

Australia is a land of immigration, so sexual orientation can also be the reason for arriving in this country.

Overall, Australia is very open to same-sex couples, more than France in any case. But homosexual migrants don’t only come here following hot surfers. I have many friends from South-East Asia who settled in Australia because they could not live freely as homosexuals in their home country. And then, there is a small number of refugees, mostly from Middle-Eastern and African countries who flee very repressive societies where homosexuality is punished by death or very heavy prison sentences. Unfortunately, I’m not certain that Australia is as open to them as to the couples in our exhibition.

Was it easy to convince couples to let themselves be photographed and attest to their own experience?

Optimistically, I first thought we’d have to run a sort of casting. In the end, we found only five couples that were ready to take part. But all have been very open and generous. Hopefully, their stories are also varied enough to sustain the public’s interest.

I only regret that some profiles are missing. I would have liked to interview migrants from East or South-East Asia who are very numerous in Melbourne.

I would have also liked to interview older couples, or couples with children. There is a great deal of variety among homosexual couples, including migrant ones, which is not entirely reflected in the exhibition.

What would a perfect world look like?

When I think about the causes and motives of what I observe around me, I always try not to forget socio-economic factors, and I’m wary of interpreting things within exclusively ethnic or cultural frameworks. All of the couples I interviewed are university educated, and all are at least relatively well-off. There is a reason for that: applying for a visa costs between 1000 and 2000 dollars just in administrative fees. The total cost of a migration to Australia can go up to a lot more than that. Not everyone has enough savings. In a perfect world, love journeys would not be for the rich only.

 

This project has been assisted by the City of Port Phillip through the Cultural Development Fund.

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