Archive for Art

The shoe-throwing phenomenon

When Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw his size-10 shoes at outgoing US President George Bush he could have had no idea that his rather courageous demonstration would have such an international impact, and that he would be elevated to hero status – near god-like even. Nor could he know that his actions would inspire emulation by thousands across the world.

Demonstrators in the UK, who were protesting against the Israeli bombing in Gaze and Britain’s apparent lack of action against it, threw shoes at the gates of Downing Street. Protestors threw more than 1000 pairs of shoes while chanting the catchy slogan, “Shame on you, have my shoe”.

Protestors throw shoes at Downing Street

Protestors throw shoes at Downing Street

Shoes litter Downing Street

Shoes litter Downing Street

In Beirut, Lebanese and Palestinian youths threw shoes at the fences surrounding the Egyptian embassy, also in protest against the Israeli attacks on Gaza. And in Iran, around 70 protestors threw their shoes at caricatures of George Bush in support of al-Zaidi. The event was sponsored by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, and attracted passers by who were on their way to Friday prayers.

An Iran woman lets her feelings be known

An Iran woman lets her feelings be known

Canada has also been in on the action, with shoe throwing protests in Montreal and Toronto. Canadian journalist and activist, Stephan Christoff commented on the event, “Today is an act of humour in a sense but it’s also a profound situation and context. We’re talking about a situation where hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives in Iraq. It is George Bush who holds a direct responsibility for the devastating, horrific situation of occupation and imperialism in Iraq.”

Artists, who are generally pretty good at seizing on a good trend, have also adapted the phenomenon to suit their industries. Artist, Eric Navickas, opened an exhibit in Oregon with a “shoe throw” piece. He painted the soles of various shoes a bright red colour and invited guests to have a go at an 8-ft image of President Bush. The exhibition was a “statement of solidarity” with al-Zaidi. And on the 19th Jan 09, San Francisco will hold the first “Potrero Hill Shoe Throwing Carnival” in support of al Zaidi, to cleanse American souls of 8 years of “carnage and stupidity.

Maine activist, Jamilla El-Shafei, is on a shoe drive to collect shoes from all over the States to shoo Bush out of the White House, which will culminate in a massive shoe-toss near the white house closer to Barack Obama’s inauguration. The shoes will then be donated to homeless shelters in Washington D.C.

Meanwhile, al-Zaidi’s trial has been plagued with scandals and set backs. There have been allegations of torture and abuse at the hands of Iraqi authorities and it’s been alleged that he was initially denied legal representation. His brothers have also claimed that his apology to Iraqi the Prime Minister was written under duress, as al-Zaidi would never have apologised for his act. The trial, which was to have started on the 31st Dec 08, has been postponed while his lawyer tries to reduce the charges from assault against a foreign head of state – with a 15-year prison term – to insulting a visting head of state – which carries a maximum sentence of 2 years. The attorneys claim that the shoes didn’t place Bush in actual danger. Dhiaa al-Saadi, al-Zaidi’s lawyer, says, “Have you ever heard of anyone being killed by a shoe? In Europe, they throw eggs and rotten tomatoes to insult. In Iraq, throwing a shoe is a symbol of disrespect.”

As for the shoes themselves, a Turkish shoe firm has claimed credit for their creation and has had to hire an extra 100 people to cope with a surge in demand. The shoe has been renamed the Bush Shoe, or the Bye-Bye Bush Shoe and is achieving international notoriety as orders come in from all over the world. Once again, al-Zaidi’s brothers are not keeping their silence and claim that the shoes were actually made in Iraq. One of the brothers has lashed at out at all those who are flying on al-Zaidi’s famous coat tails.

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TOMS Shoes: do a little good this holiday season

Tis the festive season, the time when we all become gift obsessed (the buying and the receiving), prone to spoiling those we love, and hoping, even though we know it’s goes against the spirit of things, that we will be spoilt in return. For many, regardless of religion, it’s also a time to count blessings and fight the internal Grinch by donating to all the good causes that we meant to donate to during the course of the year but somehow never got round to. Certain members of my family, who are more selfless than I am, donate to charities instead of buying gifts (I like presents and I like giving presents, and I try to support my favourite causes throughout the year anyway).

Anyway, I shall now try to get to the point, which is that TOMS Shoes is giving you the chance to spoil yourself or a loved one with a fantastic new pair of shoes, while doing your bit for the children of Ethiopia. TOMS Shoes, a footwear company with a social conscience, has a holiday campaign going that aims to donate 30,000 pairs of shoes to Ethiopian children suffering from illnesses that are completely preventable by simply wearing shoes. To do this, TOMS will donate a pair of shoes for every pair purchased.

The campaign will run for 30 days, from the 20th November to the 20th December 2008. According to Marketwatch.com, TOMS has created a video for their website that looks into the plight of children in Ethiopia. The site also has a pretty cool meter to show customer how many shoes have been donated, so far the number is around the 15,000 mark, and with roughly two weeks still to go, it seems more than likely that the targeted 30,000 pairs will be reached.

TOMS Shoes has womens’, men’s and children’s ranges and I have to say that I was very impressed to see that they even cater to the Vegan women and men among us, although, sadly, not children. In the women’s range, the vegan wrap boots are particularly funky. I wouldn’t pair of those in my stockings this xmas. The boots are a rather dear $98, but other shoes start at a much more reasonable $42 (for men and women). So why not spoil yourself a little the holiday season, and improve a child’s life at the same time.

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When shoes and art collide

It’s been pretty well established that shoes have international appeal, and not just as items of footwear, but as magnificent works of art. From Malaysia to the US and everywhere in between shoe artists express themselves through the innovative use of shoes. Sometimes fancy footwear serves as inspiration for painters, sculptors and photographers, and at other times the shoes become the canvas, as artists paint them or rework them into various shapes and representations.

Those who have only a cursory interest in shoes, as the items that keep our feet dry in the rain and enable us to look elegant in floor length dresses, will be surprised to learn the extent to which shoes are able to captivate, enthrall and excite others – and not in a weird fetish way either – but like an aged wine pleases a connoisseur and the lines of a building please an architect.

This month, in Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, youths were encouraged to enter a shoe customising competition at the Cineleisure Mall. According to the Mall’s advertising and promotion manager, Eliza Kow, the competition is designed to be a fun way for young artists to showcase their skills.

An entrant used his brother's stamp collection for inspiration

An entrant used his brother's stamp collection for inspiration

The competition kicked off on the 2nd of August with a 7-hour workshop during which 70 young designers showed off their shoes. The designs were judged on creativity, workmanship, level of difficulty and overall impression. 51 entrants made it to the final phase of the competition for public voting, which closes on the 29th of August.

If you feel that you are perhaps not artistic enough to hand paint and decorate your shoes, but you still want to cause artistic waves in customised shoes, then you should consider paying a visit to Zazzle.com. The company is well-known in the US for creating a range of customisable items, from t-shirts to coffee mugs, and now they have added shoes to their list.

Using Keds sneakers and new technology, Zazzle is now able to print images of digital photographs onto shoes. All you need to do is upload the digital image of your choice and Zazzle will create your very own artistic shoe. The shoes themselves come in three varieties for women (lace-up, slip-on and mini slip-on) and two for kids (lace-up and slip-on). The customised Keds will cost $60 (£32.72) per pair for women and $50 (£27.27) for children.

For those who are interested or just plain curious the Virtual Shoe Museum exhibits a large, often unusual and often breathtaking range of shoes, from futuristic designs to shoes made from recycled tyres and outrageous heels.

An entrant used his brother's stamp collection

By Michel Tcherevkoff

The High Heel Shoe Museum, unsurprisingly, features a wide range of high heels, from extreme high heels to hand painted shoes, as well as a collection of shoe art, shoe furniture and interesting shoe facts.

Impossible ballet slippers

Impossible ballet slippers

For more in shoe art, you can visit the Shoe Art Show, which displays shoe art in various forms, including paintings, sculptures and furniture.

Shoes and glass

Shoes and glass

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