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Aphinya Jatuparisaku, Love at a Distance

  • Photograph by Aphinya Jatuparisaku

    My youngest cousin and grandmother

  • My stepdad and mum

  • My mother

  • Nok, who also moved to Denmark like my mother, standing in front of her home

  • My mother's friend

  • Grandma tending to her pigs

  • Grandma by the fields

  • My aunt and one of her grandchildren

  • My grandparents before I left back to Denmark

  • A young boy from the Village

Love at a Distance by Aphinya Jatuparisaku

“When I was five years old the sight of snow excited me so much that I tumbled outside, only wearing undies. I was too excited and mesmerised by the snow, to pay attention to how cold it was. I remember how quickly I filled a plastic bag I had brought with me outside with crystal clear, crisp, white snow. When I got back into the house, I proudly showed the transparent plastic bag full of snow to my father, and demanded him to send the plastic bag to my grandparents, so they could get to experience snow and see what it was like. But instead of saying anything, my father just looked at me. I asked again, still no answer. Then it dawned on me that he, of course, couldn't understand me. He could not understand Isaan, and I could not understand Danish. Meanwhile, the snow melted, I started crying and ran to my bedroom. By then, I had only been in Denmark for a little more than a day.

Nearly twenty years has passed since then. There are so many things I want to tell my grandparents and my extended family, so much I want them to know. But there is a distance left by years of being apart, that a quick visit once a year can't patch up, despite all the love and tenderness. When I hear them talk, it's not just the warmth and the love radiating from their voices I can feel and hear, but also the distance — and by that I don't mean the crackling static background noise that comes when you make a long distance call, or the distance in my own voice when I find myself taking forever to tell them about simple things because I am forgetting more and more Isaan words — it is the hesitant silence that follows when my grandparents ask me if I've eaten, and ask me how I'm doing. Because no matter how much they love me, I've become a stranger to them.

Again, there are so many things I want to tell them, there is so much in my heart that I want to share with them. But I do not know how to articulate it. Neither over the phone or during visits. Even when I visit, it hurts, it hurts so much. It hurts realising that whenever I'm beginning to remember words in Isaan, which I thought I had long forgotten, then it's usually time for me to leave and say my goodbyes. The unspoken things are left unsaid, the budding beginning of the restoration of a genuine relationship with my family is again interrupted. The same is going on, year after year. But the more time passes, the more I can feel the distance spreading. Back on Western soil I, again, long after my family who is several thousand kilometers away, fully aware that the very same thing will repeat itself the following year. This is what migration looks like. Love at a distance; a granddaughter hiding behind her camera, not daring to put the camera down, because doing so would be too painful.”

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About Love at a Distance by Isabella Tjalve

Copenhagen-based Photographer Aphinya Jatuparisakul draws inspiration from her own life in her series, Love at a Distance, in order to share the trials of immigration, including the ones that come with being an immigrant in a new surrounding and the ones that linger from leaving an old life behind. These images that mainly feature her own family tell the stories of her life after migrating and reflect some of the sacrifices that Aphinya’s mother and grandmother, among many other parents, have made in order to provide better lives for the next generation. The project explores feelings of prejudice, longing, and sacrifice and also highlights the strength of immigrants. These photos provide a narrative that is not often spoken of, the narrative of trying to maintain a connection to all parts of one’s identity. Love at a Distance was curated by Isabella Tjalve and Barbara Nino in collaboration with Fotografisk Center.

Artist's Bio

Aphinya Jatuparisakul is a Copenhagen-based photographer and visual artist, born in the Chaiyaphum province of Thailand. Her images revolve around the themes of national identity, how love, longing, borders, and migration intersect as well as the strength and power of the women in her life. Love at a Distance was a project initiated in 2015 and through it Jatuparisakul focuses on the effect that marriage and migration has had on the lives of those close to her. This photo series also reflects on the consequences of the prejudice that comes from having a mother that many westerners would denominate "mail-order bride".

You can find more of Aphinya’s work on her website https://www.aphinya.dk or follow her on Instagram: @apinyacolada