It’s always been there, behind closed doors, never spoken of and the wounds rarely revealed to the world. The violent control by one person over another does lead to death in many cases. In Turkey last year, 440 women were killed by their husbands.
For Turkish artist, Vahit Tuna, the reality was heart-breaking and he wanted to bring awareness of this acute problem to his fellow countrymen they couldn’t ignore and at the same time pay homage to the victims of the violence that took their lives.
These 440 pairs of shoes were hung up on the wall of a building in Istanbul, Turkey
These days, from across the world, more and more victims of domestic violence are speaking out and sometimes getting out of the relationship successfully. Even then, the fear often remains. In Turkey, 40% of women have suffered domestic violence, in some instances ending in death.
Tuna said the inspiration to act came from seeing the increasing number of messages about the problem on social media. He also knew these stories tend to disappear and be forgotten as quickly as they rose to attention and realized the importance of creating a reminder that would last a long time. Although the 440 pairs of shoes used in Tuna’s memorial were not ever worn by the victims, it is a tradition in some parts of Turkey to place the shoes of the person who passed outside as a symbol of mourning.
Tuna says he chose high-heels primarily for aesthetic reasons although, on the other hand, the heels could be seen as a symbol of women having independence through employment, thereby being able to take care of themselves and not dependent on their husbands to survive.
The artist believes that knowledge is power and thereby knowing how to confront it. Creating awareness and starting dialogue on important social issues can be the start to change. Tuna’s other projects also gravitate around social and economic issues his home country is dealing with.
Set up in a central location of Istanbul, the 440 shoes will stay on display for 6 months.
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