10 August 2020

Photographic Digression Inspired by Turquoise Gemstones

10 August 2020 - Written by PhMuseum

Greek artist Ioustini Drakoulakou creates an enigmatic visual essay motivated by the exploration of existential questions and folklore associated with the changeable properties of turquoise gemstones.

Turquoise gemstone is a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminium. Its chemical composition, CuAl6(PO4)4(OH)8•4(H2O), could vary in different specimens of the mineral and any change in it affects the colour, weight or hardness of the stone. Due to its changeable nature, it has been ideal for the creation of myths and superstitions around it since ancient times.

“A belief of the southwestern Indians was that turquoise could be used in order to protect the wearer from harm, to relieve him from worry and to bring happiness to him” (Duncan, 1968).

Sometimes the outcome from several incidents that occurred over time, may lead to a state of re-evaluation of what once was considered to be important or crucial for one’s well-being. After the realisation that the “magic filters” did not work and the rough, “square” nature of previous beliefs was depriving oneself of the potential of other perspectives and possibilities, there comes an exponential decay of the safety that all these convictions were formerly providing. There is an internal struggle. The dreams are now “scratched”, and the reality is distorted. There is a world that is collapsing for a new one to be built. The ideals and stereotypes are now given their real dimensions. They are earthed, and this ends up in the loss of their prestige that they once had.

Space, where this process takes place, is opposed to the binary thinking that defines good/bad. The approach starts to be more subjective and experiential rather than positivistic. It is an indefinite space which, although it is based on facts, rejects rationality and, under a constant questioning, it allows the “negative” to transform into “positive” and vice versa.

Words and Pictures by Ioustini Drakoulakou.


Ioustini Drakoulakou (b. 1989, Thessaloniki, Greece) received a BSc (2014) and MSc (2019) in Geology from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. In 2018 she completed her photography studies at the Stereosis School of Photography (Thessaloniki) and in 2019 she attained her MA in Photography from Goldsmiths, University of London. Find her on PHmuseum and Instagram.


This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.

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