Kopek Monument, 2012
Collaboration with Georgia Mill.
Kopek Monument is a mosaic installation acknowledging the presence of the dogs in the town of Şile, Turkey. Research indicates that the companionship of a dog can enhance human physical health and psychological wellbeing.
Materials embedded in the mosaics are sourced from the local area include Turkish cai plates, izmic tiles, evil eyes, bells, sea glass shells and pebbles and recycled timber from the council depot. In Turkish, Arkadas translates to ‘companion’ and Dost translates to ‘soul friend’.
Human intercommunication is an important part of site analysis for the area of Şile, Turkey. However, the interaction of the stray dogs of Şile was perhaps the most prominent of all. Our guide Abdullah informed us that the stray dogs of Şile were often left behind by tourists after their summer holidays, and the local townsfolk did not always tolerate them. He also mentioned previously that people from another town had loaded up a truck of stray dogs and dumped them in Sile in the dead of the night.
While I witnessed many townsfolk talking to the dogs, feeding and patting them I also noticed women grasp their children and pull them away from the dogs. One of my colleagues actually saw a man aggressively kick a dog who lay in his way on the footpath.
From day one, a dog looking much like a slender and small German Shepard accompanied our group on a walk of Şile. The dog was soon christened “Poochie” by one of our group, and immediately became a part of the RMIT team. Poochie would often accompany any one of us on tasks about town, down to the ferry and often to the beach. It became apparent that the friendliness in Poochie was not a unique trait to just Poochie; every dog I encountered welcomed me with smiling eyes and a wagging tail. I began to photograph the dogs, documenting their location and giving names to the unique dogs with specific behaviours, locations or appearances.
Scrappy, Beach dog, Happy-waggy dog, Tradie boy, Rose Garden pups and guilty bread boy were some of the names. This casual identification gave way to anthropomorphic recognition of human traits and characteristics that were mirrored in some of the dogs behaviours, and set in motion an investigation into human and dog relations and the history of dogs in Şile.
Georgia Mill and I decided to collaborate on the project, and we discussed how to incorporate the project into our research. My interests were in migration and Georgia’s interests were movement; both themes resonated and we discussed what we could do with the documentation of the dogs.
We decided upon monuments to mark the acknowledgement of the dogs of the town and the dogs of the seaside. As the dogs represented a form of companionship, the location of the pier opposite the fisherman’s café called Rihtim Café seemed an obvious choice. And a built ledge on a stone wall overlooking the town and seaside seemed a good location for the second shrine.