PIETRA BY CEMRE YESIL AND ALICE CARACCIOLO

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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.

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The Turks used to regularly occupy the coast of Salento and one of the most targeted place 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.

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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 to send 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 a great joy and they all gathered around the ship. Finally the statue was brought to its former cathedral where is still regarded with such a great respect. However, nobody knows what happened to the Turkish wife.

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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.
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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 inhabits 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?

Cemre Yesil, Turkish photographer living in Istanbul, was nominated for the Paul Huf Award 2014 of Amsterdam Photography Museum FOAM, for ING Unseen Talent Award 2016 and for Lead Awards 2016.

Alice Caracciolo, born in Pisa in 1986, took part in Curatorial Programme at the Royal Academy of Art with Bas Vroege in the Netherlands. Settles in Lecce where she founded in 2014  L.O.F.T: a place designed around the world of contemporary photography with the  photographer Francesca Fiorella.

'Pietra' is shortlisted by Photo London Academy.

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