Bed Checks - PhMuseum

Bed Checks

Olga Fe

2018 - Ongoing

Bed Checks borrows its title from a tactic of unannounced home inspections deployed by immigration authorities. The project began as a response to bureaucratic scrutiny of our marriage - a marriage between a citizen and a non-citizen. Like all mixed citizenship couples, we were suspected by default. To prove our innocence, a sceptical bureaucracy expected us to construct, and then document, a fiction of a relationship that adheres to an implied standard of heteronormative validity.

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  • Beach landscape and security camera inside an immigration officer's cubicle. Photography is strictly forbidden; even as the immigration authorities rifle through our intimate photos, we are not allowed to question them.

  • Wedding photo styled as a true crime illustration

  • Pratya and Olga embrace in a cheap motel in LA. Traveling together is an important way to prove the legitimacy of one's relationship to immigration authorities. Couples who can't afford to travel together are at a disadvantage.

  • Before 1986, joining one's spouse in the United States was easy. In 1986, the FBI released (later proven incorrect) information that 1/3 of all mixed immigration status marriages are fraudulent. Every couple is under suspicion of fraud, and ICE distributes flyers like these in immigrant neighborhoods like ours. An anonymous tip can upend a married couple's life or result in separation.

  • Pratya and Olga in their room

  • Olga and Pratya share a very small room, but they are very happy. Olga barely meets the income requiirement for sponsoring her spouse's Green Card. If she falls below the limit, they will have to find someone else to sponsor him, or get separated.

  • Pratya constantly worries whether the evidence of their relationship will be sufficient for the USCIS.

  • Outside of an immigration detention facility at night. It is Pratya and Olga's greatest fear that Pratya will end up in a facility like this if an immigration official decides that their relationship is not "real", or even by mistake.

  • An apple with an imprint of Olga's teeth

  • Olga's skin with a bite mark. The evidence is everywhere, but it is nor the kind of evidence one can show to strangers.

  • Pratya places arm on Olga's head.

  • The view from their aparment window. During the lockdown, many people lit up fireworks in the street. but Pratya was afraid to participate to avoid even a minor encounter with the police.

  • Blood and toothpaste. Dental care in the United States is inaccessible, and Olga's gums bleed very badly.

  • Pratya and Olga's windows at night.

  • Cracked window in our apartment. We are afraid to ask our landlord to fix it because we need him to confirm to immigration authorities that we live in the same apartment.

  • After the owner apartment where we lived without a lease asked us to move, we were forced to stay in a cheap motel.

  • The motel enrance at night.

  • In the Green Card interview, we have to explain where each object is located in our room and answer questions like, "what side of the bed does your spouse sleep on?"

  • Pratya and Olga relaxing in bed.

  • Olga and Pratya in bed. A photograph like this cannot be submitted as evidence of their relationship; on the contrary, it would raise suspicious by being "explicit."

  • Official processing Pratya and Olga 's documents. The application process costs thousand of dollars because of the investigation into the couple's "true relationship" conducted by the USCIS.

  • Rooms for rent advertised on store shutters in Pratya and Olga's neighborhood.

  • Pratya had to renounce his student visa to apply for Green Card through marriage, becoming effectively undocumented.

  • Immigration officers ask intimate questions to ascertain that a relationship is real, like "Does your wife shave her body hair?"

  • Pratya's hair

  • Internal USCIS document obtained through Freedom of Information Request and a photograph of Olga and Pratya in bed.

  • The Green Card application process is a tug of war between privacy and exposure

  • A shared hairbrush and fingerprints on glass.

  • I couldn't bear it if you were forced to disappear

  • torn sheets