Amoungst Oscar Wilde’s beautiful, prose-filled, bittersweet stories for grown-up children is a tale called The Fisherman and His Soul. I was always struck by the sadness of it: the titular Fisherman falling in love with a mermaid and cutting away his human soul in order to be with her (“Of what use is my soul to me?” he reasons. “I cannot see it. I may not touch it. I do not know it. Surely I will send it away from me, and much gladness shall be mine.”) And then, the pernicious separation of physical heart and metaphysical soul – the latter taking on a life of its own, becoming corrupted in the absence of the former – causing his unwitting downfall.
There are several timeless and ever-relevant themes here, like human vulnerability and the seductions it succumbs to, and the divides society creates for itself – here between man and mermaid, an unholy union in the people’s eyes, but in life between religion, race, gender, or class. No doubt Wilde felt the bounds of forbidden desires.
I won’t spoil the whole story (if you’ve never read it, go dig up a copy) but I refer to it because this shoot by Cristina Carra Caso called it to mind. The Fisherman & His Lover is by no means a retelling of Wilde’s story, and perhaps that’s all in good fortune for its main characters. These two – who one might consider a lowly fisherman and a mermaid-like beauty, styled into vibrant fishtail gowns by Carolyn Couture – seem at least destined to be together. Still there’s a melancholy aura floating over the them, perhaps because – for two people to be together – they always must leave something behind. The mermaid has to live on land, or the fisherman under the sea. But then, for love to work, there must always be some compromise.
For all of Cristina Carra Caso’s (cristinacarracasophotography.com) shoot – which stars models Sara Mclean & Paul Carrigan, with hair and makeup by Ramilia Mccaskie – visit the gallery.