The aim of my project is to give my own interpretation of myths and legends linked to my motherland and, at the same time, seek the inner fears of human beings. Folk tales live in our everyday lives, through our gestures and habits: it is possible to find them in a crack in the ceiling, in a scream piercing the silence of the woods, in my cat’s eyes staring at me at night.
In every part of the world, cats are worshipped as divine entities. Their mysterious souls are well represented by the Italian dark legend of Gatto Mammone: it is described as a hobgoblin, but in the oral mythology of Lucca, Gatto Mammone is a protective figure. In fact, according to a few legends, Gatto Mammone is believed to be a black cat capable of protecting against evil and maleficent entities such as the streghi, found in folklore.
The word streghi has the same root as Italian streghe and stregoni (witches and wizards in English) and means evil spirits. In Lucca folklore, streghi figures are not interested in human beings and, mainly, they do not practise magic against people. Generally, they live in the woods far from human beings even though they are animal shaped entities. It is possible to see them celebrating sabbath under a walnut tree at night. If you bump into their night procession, it is quite common to receive a candle from them that will turn into a bone. It means that the next day they will come to your house and ask for their candle back. Only Gatto Mammone or a knife in the bark of the streghi’s tree can protect you.
Foresticume is another indefinite and terrifying entity. Although it is invisible, it causes panic for anyone who comes into contact with it. It can manifest itself in the form of strange gusts of wind or with a sudden drop in temperature. Sometimes it utters mournful lamentations or in a faint voice coming from behind you. I love to imagine that Foresticume could be the breath of a fairy who lives in these mountains.