“If The Shoe Fits...Buy It"
Shoes are much more than pretty accessories. Throughout the ages, they have reflected the cultural and societal mores of their day. My particular interest lies in the paradox between the shoe’s status as a symbol of pollution and disrespect in many Eastern cultures, and the desirable, almost reverential status they enjoy in our post-industrial consumer society. My multi-media installation entitled If The Shoe Fits…Buy It touches upon the tensions within the subtext of these diverse shoe cultures.
In our culture, shoes can be about comfort and protection, but often are expressions of self-image, sex, and social status. In Arabic and Persian cultures, the term for shoe - “kundara” - encompasses a broader shoe concept, one in which the shoe is considered the ultimate symbol of degradation. Using verbal references to the shoe is highly insulting and derogatory, and exposing the sole of one’s shoe or using it to touch an object or person, is the height of denigration and disrespect. The now iconic image of President Bush being assailed by a shoe-throwing journalist in Iraq during a widely televised press conference in December 2008 is perhaps the ultimate scenario to illustrate kundara.