This collaborative work departs from a legendary story from Castro, in South Italy. The Region of Puglia commissioned artists Cemre Yeşil (Turkey) and Alice Caracciolo (Italy) to make a photographic work inspired by the following legend titled The Turk’s Wife:
The Turks used to regularly occupy the coast of Salento and one of the most targeted places was Castro. During one of the incursions, they stole a precious statue of Madonna, which was assigned to one of the Turkish commanders, who later gave the statue to his wife as a gift. Even though his wife was Muslim, she kept the statue as a beautiful object with an artistic value.
The wife was pregnant and she was in a lot of pain. In spite of the prayers, the woman wasn’t able to give birth. The wife had a slave, a woman from Castro, who had been kidnapped and became a servant in Constantinople. The slave felt very sorry about her mistress and then she suggested sending the statue back to its former country in order to hope for a miracle.
The husband was convinced and he ordered to put the statue on a ship and send it back to where it belonged. Without anyone guiding it, the ship arrived from Constantinople to Castro overnight. When fishermen saw and recognised the statue, they spread the word to all of the citizens. They rang the bells with such great joy and they all gathered around the ship.
Finally the statue was brought to its former cathedral where is still regarded with such great respect. However, nobody knows what happened to the Turkish wife.
Through this legend, artists Cemre Yeşil and Alice Caracciolo make a photographic expedition to Earth — to the land of Castro in particular — through stones. They photographically question the relationship between stones and souls while trying to shed a light on the history of certain stones that are taken away from human sight and touch; such as the towers that Italians built by the water to protect from the Ottoman invasions (in 1537,1554,1573,1594,1620) and the poor statue that weighs 7 tons titled Güzel Istanbul, 1975 (meaning Beautiful Istanbul) which ‘lived’ only for 7 days in its original location. This beautiful statue of a naked woman was removed because the government back then thought it didn’t represent a Turkish Woman and then the statue became homeless.
By focusing on the visual embodiment of stones, this work explores whether photography might reveal any further connections and rationales in between the elements and issues that had been subject to such a myth — such as; the sea, statue, ship, femininity, womanhood, motherhood. With this work, Cemre Yeşil and Alice Caracciolo try to embrace the souls within the stones through photography by asking:
What does it mean to move a stone?
What does it take to remove a stone?
How can one actually carry a stone?
How come the stories change with the movement of a stone?
Do stones take part in so-called ‘anima mundi’?
Are stones inanimate objects?
Do inanimate objects have consciousness?
Are stones conscious to some extent?
Can we think of an unimaginably simple consciousness of stones?
Can we ensoul stone statues?
Do stone statues possess a soul?
Is a stone only a material object in the mind of its perceiver?
Is a stone only a chuck of matter that we can prove just by kicking it?*
Does a stone inhabit a collective history?
How can mind and body interact through a stone?
Can photographs of stones reveal the consistency between spiritual and philosophical traditions that span cultures and centuries?
How can a stone put us in touch with spiritual traditions?
Can we feel and believe in a stone while trying to maintain an academic credibility?
Can we find a glimpse of reality within a stone as an ordered, living whole?
Can we rub shoulders with sentient stones?
Can we speak of private lives of stones?
Can we make our selves at home in a mindless cosmos filled with stones?
What is it like to be a stone?
* In his article titled The Private Lives Of Rocks (2016), Jon David refers to Samuel Johnson claiming that he wasn’t impressed in mind’s interaction with matter called idealism. David quotes Johnson: “I refute it thus,” he said, kicking a pebble. In his eyes, he thought he could prove that the pebble was a chunk of matter by kicking it.