Domestic violence continues to be one of the world’s major problems. While both men and women may be exposed to such abuse, most victims are women in general. In fact, it also accounts for a significant portion of deaths among females. Sadly, the majority of them experience violence at the hands of their own partners and husbands. In Turkey alone, over 40% of women suffer from domestic abuse. This rate continues to increase at an alarming rate. From 409 in 2017, the number of women killed by their husbands has increased to 440 in 2018. To commemorate their death, Turkish artist and graphic designer Vahit Tuna erected a 440 shoes memorial in a building in Istanbul.
These 440 pairs of high-heels represent 440 women who were killed by their husbands in 2018.
This memorial is made by Turkish artist and graphic designer Vahit Tuna.
His artwork, entitled Untitled, is the fourth project of Yankose, a non-profit art platform. This exhibit features 440 pairs of black high-heels installed on Yankose’s building walls located in Kabatas, Beyoglu. These pairs represent the 440 women who have fallen victim to this social injustice. For Tuna, high-heels symbolize feminine power and the independence that these women never had.
Unlike other artists, Tuna strayed away from the common practice of displaying his work in an indoor gallery. Instead, he chose to showcase his work outside a building to draw attention not just from art enthusiasts but passersby alike. This way, his work would have a greater impact on anyone who sees it. Furthermore, it would be hard for anyone to turn a blind eye to this pressing issue. Afterall, Tuna’s main objective is to raise further awareness on this critical matter.
In the same way, this act is also in reference to a Turkish tradition. When someone dies, it is a customary practice to leave their shoes outside their homes. People do this as a sign of mourning in some parts of Turkey.
There’s no doubt that stories about violence against women are prevalent these days. However, many choose to turn a deaf ear to these stories. Most victims probably never had the chance to tell their sides of the story. Indeed, much remains to be done to fully solve this problem. Every solution starts with raising awareness about the problem. And this is what Tuna hopes to achieve in his 6-month 440 shoes memorial exhibit.