vian roos | connected
CONNECTED is a photographic series by Vian Roos that explores the different ways in which couples have relationships. | vian roos is a visual storyteller using photography and design
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connected

 

No one relationship is similar to another. And it is not supposed to be. CONNECTED is a photographic series by Vian Roos that explores the different ways in which couples have relationships.

 

The portraits work in tandem with text with the aim of evoking the core human emotion of love, and to investigate how couples view connection and togetherness.Anneli Groenewald, who collaborates with Roos, provides text that documents and contextualises the realities of the relationships behind each image. In the process, the collaboration works to undermine prejudices towards so-called ‘non-traditional’ relationships.

 

Photographer & conceptual developer: Vian Roos
Text: Anneli Groenewald
Producer: Eugene Smith

 

CONNECTED was exhibited in July 2016 at the vrynge festival that forms part of the Vrystaat Arts Festival. In 2018 CONNECTED was on show at the Colour My World exhibition that forms part of the Brighton Pride, Brighton United Kingdom,

freedom

 

Our relationship is built on freedom. If any of us had ever tried to hold on to the other one too tightly, we would no longer have been together.

 

A: The first thing about a relationship is always the physical attraction. And then, as an emotional relationship develops… that is what would make it work. B’s taste in things, and how B thinks about stuff… that is what I initially liked about B. If that wasn’t there – it doesn’t matter how pretty B was – then it wouldn’t have lasted very long. But it is difficult to highlight one specific thing. It is B’s entire being. And another thing was B’s creativity.

 

B: It is hard to point to one single thing that connects us. Usually it is a combination of a million small things. It is never simply one or two elements, but rather a lot of things. Our interests, art – something that we have in common – is probably the biggest. Maybe some things might be missing, but those elements that are present are so strong. It works for me. And then: A allows me to be my own person. And A would never hurt anyone. A never becomes aggressive, and has never treated anyone badly. A would never do anyone in.

 

A: I will stay until B tells me to go. I have learnt, very early on, that the moment I try to hold on to B, I will lose B. And that is another thing that drew me to B: a very strong personality. We don’t really fight. But sometimes the people closest to you become the punching bag. Because you can let go of your emotions, and the person closest to you will accept it. And will understand that you had to get it out. They won’t be angry at you afterwards.

fearless

 

We do have our differences, but there are certain fundamentals. We are soulmates.

 

A: I always say maybe my spirit was drawn to B. It wasn’t physical, but something attracted me to B. Maybe it was our energies.

 

B: What keeps me with A is a lack of fear. I am never afraid when I am with A. So many things about A are effortless. Even when A says things that should make me feel insecure, I do not feel insecure. Another quality is that A is extremely brave. A shows me that there is no reason to act in a certain way or to dress in a certain way just because you identify in a certain way. Initially I was really curious about A. A is regal, and has this element of respect. You know? Somebody that you can take home to meet your parents – you can’t take me anywhere! I think the answer about what attracted me to A, will continue to change. I will always remember different things. And many of them can’t really be explained.

 

A: I would say we are soulmates. Because of the way that I felt drawn to A.

 

B: I want to be in A’s presence. I have never before been willing to work this hard at a relationship. Even if it might have been more practical to simply let go of the relationship. I don’t know why. Why?

 

A: B brings out the best in me. And allows me to be myself. Apart from that, I simply love B. Love is to be able to be yourself, fully, with someone. And you also love the other person. Fully. Without trying to change anything about the other person.

 

B: A has qualities that complement me. I am very impatient. And A is very patient. A is patient with me even when I am being impatient. I trust A.

reality

 

Our relationship is very real. Right from the start. We’ve had to deal with very serious problems in our relationship, and we had to deal with them quickly. So we just had to get stuck in and do it.

 

A: We fight a lot. Especially when I say I’ll do something, and then I don’t do it. Or when I overdo things. Like when I go out on a Friday evening and then only get back home at five the next morning. I’ve always been single. I wasn’t used to staying at home on Friday nights, or that the things that you do have an impact on someone else. In the beginning we fought… almost like we were enemies. Later you don’t know why you are staying together. But you do, for some reason. The fact that we’ve been through so much… It is difficult to explain to someone how shit life can really be. I don’t have to explain it to B. B knows. We know. I think it brings a sense of calm to our relationship.

 

B: I think there is also an element that one cannot describe. Some people come into your life, and then they disappear again. Other people will come into your life, and then they just stay for some reason. I don’t think it is necessarily fate or destiny, but it is something along those lines. Some people simply do not go. It doesn’t matter what happens. You can’t explain it – that some people just stay, regardless. So that is strange.

 

A: I don’t know what connects us. But in my eyes B is perfect. I have never been able to stay in a relationship for longer than two months, because I always find fault with people. With B… I just can’t find fault with B.

friendship

 

We’re life partners. Life partners, yes. That sounds good. We know we’ll die together one day… That is if we don’t kill each other! We’re that kind of couple who’ll want our own rooms one day. We like our own space. We’re both artists and we need space to create.

 

A: I was attracted to B’s brain. The way in which B sees stuff. The good in life. B sees stuff for the first time. All the time. And B is beautiful – but that is a bonus. B changed my outlook on life completely, and I’ll always be grateful for that. B just opened a world for me. All couples probably have that one thing… I think for us friendship is core. We haven’t fought in years. I can’t even remember what we used to fight about.

 

B: There was a time when we fought a lot. Now we don’t have time to fight. We work too hard, and we don’t see each other enough.

 

A: If we fight, it would be over small stuff. Not about something like ‘I don’t like you as a person’. We’ll fight about stuff like ‘Why did you have that last piece of pizza’.

 

B: You are really messy, now that I think about it! You use nine spoons when you cook, but your food is really good. So it doesn’t matter. I use one spoon, but my food isn’t that good.

 

A: Music is everything to us. We love music and we love the band life. I think if it wasn’t for music, we would probably not have been together.

 

B: Yes, I don’t think so. Why do other couples stay together? Why do people wanttobewithotherpeople?Idon’tknow.’Causethey’rescaredandalone? I don’t know.

 

A: The best couples I know are really good friends. I guess every couple probably finds that thing that works for them.

consideration

 

We’ve been together for years. We’ve got a very strong connection. And it becomes stronger as you go through stuff together. Like when your parents die. Difficult times bring people closer to each other.

 

A: As you get older, it becomes more important to be there for the other person. When you go through a difficult time… the relationship becomes stronger. And then your attitude is also important. And the way in which you talk to each another. You can say something in a nice manner, or you can say it in a hurtful way. For me, that is really important in a relationship: to be considerate.

 

B: Obviously, at the beginning sex is important. It’s exciting. And then it passes. It turns into something deeper.

 

A: Sometimes I’ll pace up and down the house all evening, without saying a word. Then B thinks I am angry. But I simply don’t feel like talking. But in that moment, you think it is personal. I don’t like conflict.

 

B: Sometimes I also don’t feel like spending time with A. Or with people, for that matter. Then A also takes it personally.

 

A: When I met B, I didn’t believe in relationships. They say when you meet the right person, you’ll know. And then I met B.

 

B: In the beginning there will always be growing pains. I think being in love helps you get through those growing pains. But eventually that phase of being in love goes away. We are soulmates. I hope we are soulmates.

 

A: We won’t hold hands in a restaurant. You’ll rather let your leg touch the other’s leg underneath the table. A way of saying ‘I am here with you’. The other day we went to the grocery store. And we bumped into a friend who recently celebrated his birthday. We haven’t seen him in ages. I think for a moment neither of us thought about what we were doing. So we greeted him with a kiss. There was a man in the store who saw it. He looked at us with disgust.

 

B: Sometimes I have a sense of guilt towards society. For example, I would have liked to walk hand in hand with A. I miss that. Being so comfortable in public. You can cling to a woman and nobody would think it is strange.

 

A: Gay, straight, marriage, relationship… whatever it is, in any type of relationship, the same small stuff will irritate the other one. But the happiness is also there.

my person

 

We had similar interests in life, and then we started chatting. We are connected by shared experiences. We were there for each other during difficult times.

 

A: I see B as ‘my person’. Obviously there was a physical attraction right at the beginning. But that attraction was heightened by an intellectual element. I can’t really divorce the physical from the intellectual.

 

B: The one bleeds into the other.

 

A: B is integral to my life. I cannot imagine my life without B. We had similar interests, but when I started talking to B, I realised that apart from shared interests, I also really liked B. And that B was more intelligent than the other people in the room.

 

B: I found A really, really good looking. And A and I had exactly the same interests. I am from a tiny town, where nobody had the same interests that I had. So I was really attracted to A. But then I could also have conversations with A which I could never have with anybody else. It is something inherent. It is something that just started happening as we spent time together. If A looked differently, A would still have been mine. I would still have connected with A during that first conversation. And I would still have wanted to go back to A and get to know A better. Yes, there is the physical component, but that is merely a small part of the whole. Of an overall feeling of: ‘I like you’. We both went through difficult things. Our relationship was really cemented because we suffered together. We have really been through horrible experiences in life. We are still going through it. And then I know A will be there. A won’t go away. A does small things that shows that A understands what I am going through. That A understands the unbelievable pain that I experience.

 

A: For me… How do I explain it? It’s difficult to say why B is the one. I can’t say it is one thing. B is so integral to my life, I simply cannot imagine how life would be without B. We’re kind of exact opposites. Well, not exact opposites. But pretty much. There are things in life that I struggle with. B helps me with those things.

 

B: We complete each other. There are areas in life that I struggle with. And then A navigates me through those things.

content

 

We are best friends. Soulmates. Life partners. We’ve always had the mindset that we’ll always be together. We’ve never had any doubt about that. The biggest challenge in our relationship is external – our families. Luckily we both have the same dynamics with our families, so we understand each other’s situation. Together we’ve been through a lot of difficult stuff. But still we have never – ever – doubted our relationship.

 

A: I think it is about a mutual understanding of who we are. We’re on the same page. And I think it’s also because we just love each other so much. Our relationship has really been easy – and relationships are not easy. And we’re completely different. I am more right brain, and B is more left brain.

 

B: I am happy. I feel content. I am very comfortable just being myself when I am with A, because I know there is no judgement. A’s love for me is unconditional. I experience so much peace and happiness being in a relationship where I know the love is unconditional. It doesn’t matter how much we fight – and sometimes it gets rowdy – I have never had any doubts about our relationship. It doesn’t matter what happens. I have never questioned our relationship, or felt that I had to get out of it. From the beginning I just had this really strong need to get to know A better and better.

 

A: I felt, right from the beginning, that B was a part of me, and that I had a responsibility towards B. Now I feel so content. I always thought love was about physical attraction. But it is so much deeper than that. It is a deeper understanding. And respect. It’s the first time that I am in a relationship where we both respect the other one so wholeheartedly.

open-minded

 

We don’t really know each other that well. We met on the internet a few weeks ago and started chatting. You could call it a ‘casual connection’. But the term has a very negative connotation. So let’s rather call it a periodic connection. It’s a connection with someone, but not on a permanent basis.

 

A: Usually, online, you approach people in a more open-minded way. You meet someone, and you chat, and sometimes it develops into a stronger relationship. Sometimes you become friends. What I am looking for in a person… Things that are similar. The same interests. Long-term goals and shared values are important. Physical appearance is definitely important – first impressions – but then the detail becomes important. Whether you can communicate with each another. I am quite adventurous. So I would want someome with whom I could share that aspect.

 

B: It is definitely important to have mutual interests and goals. But it is not a necessity. And if there are elements where people differ, it forces you out of your comfort zone and it becomes an opportunity to grow and to learn. It can be positive, but it can also be negative. But to be different, to have different cultural backgrounds, can lead to a richer experience. It helps you to look at life in a different way.

 

A: I am definitely looking for a life partner, but it is something that… It will happen as and when it does.

 

B: I am also open to the possibility of a long-term relationship or a life partner. But I am not necessarily actively looking for it. The idea of a life partner is one of those things that you are told you should have. You have to find someone, settle down, and then have kids… And I simply don’t think that holds anymore. These days relationships last for five years, maybe ten. For a relationship, I think… someone who understands life. Somebody that I am comfortable being around, and where I am safe. I don’t know whether I’d want to be any more prescriptive about what I want in a partner.

content

 

We are best friends. Soulmates. Life partners. We’ve always had the mindset that we’ll always be together. We’ve never had any doubt about that. The biggest challenge in our relationship is external – our families. Luckily we both have the same dynamics with our families, so we understand each other’s situation. Together we’ve been through a lot of difficult stuff. But still we have never – ever – doubted our relationship.

 

A: I think it is about a mutual understanding of who we are. We’re on the same page. And I think it’s also because we just love each other so much. Our relationship has really been easy – and relationships are not easy. And we’re completely different. I am more right brain, and B is more left brain.

 

B: I am happy. I feel content. I am very comfortable just being myself when I am with A, because I know there is no judgement. A’s love for me is unconditional. I experience so much peace and happiness being in a relationship where I know the love is unconditional. It doesn’t matter how much we fight – and sometimes it gets rowdy – I have never had any doubts about our relationship. It doesn’t matter what happens. I have never questioned our relationship, or felt that I had to get out of it. From the beginning I just had this really strong need to get to know A better and better.

 

A: I felt, right from the beginning, that B was a part of me, and that I had a responsibility towards B. Now I feel so content. I always thought love was about physical attraction. But it is so much deeper than that. It is a deeper understanding. And respect. It’s the first time that I am in a relationship where we both respect the other one so wholeheartedly.