Sara Davies – Between the lines of the EEA(PR) form I imagine the north

My voice is only just able to hold the bureaucratic words. As I read from the EEA (permanent residency) form, it is faltering under the burden of authority. I am reading from the boundaries between inclusion and exclusion, I am reciting the bold headings, the formal sentence, the official tone, startled by the many tables and tick boxes. Name. Address. Date of birth. Length of stay. Financial Resources. Signed. Date. The EEA form is used to gain permanent residency in the UK, it is 85-pages long. When I read it aloud, my limbs feel heavy. When I think of filling it in, I freeze. During this performance I am encountering the form differently, through gesture and play I question its power. Between the lines of the EEA (permanent residency) form I imagine the north.

The piece of work developed in response to the referendum and the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, it evolved as the government’s negotiations with Europe began. I wanted the piece of work to tell a personal story about the contradictions of residency and belonging, in a rapidly changing political and social environment. I was hoping this personal gesture would touch the audience, speaking about inclusion and exclusion more generally. I performed three times with the printed form, the pile of A4 pages. The first time was at the Northern Residency symposium in the Righton Open Space, MMU in the summer of 2017. The second time, in November 2017, was at FACT Liverpool as part of the NWCDTP conference ‘Exploring Identity: Between being and belonging’. The third time was at this event, Creative Provocations in the Righton Open space, MMU in December 2017. Each time, the piece of work evolved, the performance changed as the various spaces and audiences affected me. I imagined the north in different ways.

As I perform I read in the light of lanterns. The glass is adorned with images of pine forest. Needles, branches and pine cones. Memories of home. As I read, browns and greens spread a soft glow across the pages. There is a tension between the bureaucratic language on the form and the gentle vessels of nostalgia. I place the pages on the floor, improvising in response to the environment. Each pattern emerges from a particular occasion. As I perform I respond to the memory lanterns, the place, the audience and what is happening politically. The form become snowdrifts, snow crystals and wintery forest paths. I perform the tensions of here and there, now and then. I think about what it means to dwell, reside, inhabit, belong, unbelong and have residence. To be inside, outside or both. I think about how it feels to speak from the border, from its many gaps and overlaps.