I was given the opportunity to show a pair of custom made shoes in an art show in Hebden Bridge, UK this summer. The Sensational Summer Art Competition was curated by the lovely and talented Kirsty Hall, who made my participation possible though I couldn’t afford to attend myself. It was themed ‘Haberdashery’. In the original British version haberdashery has nothing to do with men’s clothing and everything to do with these small things like laces, zippers, ribbons and buttons that peddler once sold off the street.
Here is what I wrote in my proposal that was necessary in order to have a chance to be short listed and actual show a piece in the exhibition:
“Given the 50 cm square limitation of the available space none of my paintings either on paper or canvas would work. Yet, reading the theme Haberdashery I thought immediately of my shoes; not just because shoe laces belong to the stock of these shops, but because the original haberdashers had to walk long and far to sell their goods from their little carts.
My shoes are little portable and useable art works. I use the canvas of the sneakers like my paper or my stretchers. Though I created my first pair to be auctioned off in the framework of a charity event, the idea itself works nicely with my idea of pop art as I create it. I use widely known and hence recognizable pop culture references (mainly TV shows, movies, and popular books) to pick my audience up from common ground and make them more ready to allow art and all it means and transports into their lives. I try to bridge the gap and make art more palpable and feasible. So, combining my art with something of use in everyday life is just taking the idea one step further.
Haberdashery makes me think of buttons. I grew up behind the Wall in East Germany, then known as the German Democratic Republic. And this place was not known for its wide range of choices in anything. If one wanted something unique to wear, one knitted and sewed it. As a child I was fascinated by the button collection my grandmother had harvested from old clothes, the different sizes, colors and shapes.
Now to stick with my pop culture references I jumped to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Besides the obvious – the name – there is this last scene in which a glass full of buttons is poured out onto a table and it’s like Benjamin compares people to buttons when he says:
Some people were born to sit by a river. Some get struck by lightning. Some have an ear for music. Some are artists. Some swim. Some know buttons. Some know Shakespeare. Some are mothers. And some people — dance.
The shoes I want to submit speak of buttons and people, dancing, the timelessness of being who one is and life that can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards.”
And here is a photo of my shoes as displayed in the show: