Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

English Transition: British Artist Anya Gallaccio Lives in Her Native England Because It Allows Her to Be with Her American Partner. but That's Not Where She'd Choose to Be

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

English Transition: British Artist Anya Gallaccio Lives in Her Native England Because It Allows Her to Be with Her American Partner. but That's Not Where She'd Choose to Be

Article excerpt

Renowned British artist Anya Gallaccio has always been drawn to the concept of transition. That's why in 1996 she constructed a 34 ton ice sculpture inside an abandoned London water station and packed it with rock salt to make it melt faster.

No surprise, then, that the 41-year-old artist fell in love with an American woman, entering a binational relationship dependent on the changing landscape of immigration law. Gallaccio, a Glasgow, Scotland, native, met fellow artist Kelly, 33, whose last name she declined to give, while living in San Francisco in 2002. The couple later moved to England--in London's Whitechapel area---where they have a better chance of staying together.

In America spousal immigration rights do not extend to same-sex partners, who are usually dependent on work or vacation visas that quickly expire. They often must stay illegally and live in secrecy to remain with their loved ones. In many cases deportation forces couples apart indefinitely. The United Kingdom, however, allows nonresident same-sex partners to apply for partnership status after two years. It's far from perfect, as partners still must obtain some kind of visa that will last through that waiting period.

Gallaccio, who in the past shunned labels such as "woman artist" or "lesbian," has since become somewhat of a reluctant advocate for gay-inclusive immigration law. "I am a responsible person with a strong sense of civic duty, so I don't feel comfortable with the idea that I am a criminal just by trying to be with the person that I love," she says. …

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