Laura Gonzalez


12 Feb 2009

A Stiletto Tree

One of my students alerted me to the existence of a Shoe Tree in Newcastle’s Armstrong Park. The concept was new to me: it sounds like a pet cemetery, but in a tree and for shoes. She told me that the strange rituals people engage in are a real problem to the council, who has to take the shoes down and repair the tree’s branches regularly. So the location of the tree is either found by mistake, perseverance, or shared through word of mouth. You won’t find it in most guide books. Councils are funny places, though, trying to put order in an entropic conglomerate of people. In Glasgow, where I live, they have taken to flypost over already existing posters with the word “cancelled”. You can’t deny their humour. But back to shoes.


The Shoe Tree is not a Geordie phenomenon. They are everywhere! I can’t think of a more uncanny sight than hanged shoes. They are meant for walking, for being on the floor. When in trees, they are helpless, far away from where they can be of use, reachable only with great effort. Then, of course, there’s the death metaphor. When I see a pair of shoes tied and hanged on a power line, I smile. A drunken night, I think, a silly bet, a joke. A multiplication of this in a tree would freak me out. I attribute the feeling to the ritualistic side of the act, the homage element in it, the mourning. Shoes are objects with which we develop an intimate relationship. They are worn at most times (one shouldn’t go outside without them), they remain there despite the weather and they are a real statement of the person sporting them. They help us get where we want, literally and metaphorically. I don’t drive, so my shoes are like the poor woman’s car. I polish them, wash them, repair them with care. It is sad when I have to throw them away so the idea of a ritual is very appealing.

Still, I can only relate to the trees on a distant level. Think about it. In order to throw a shoe and catch it in a branch, it has to have laces. Not the kind of shoes I normally wear. The trees are more “Sneaker Trees“ or ”Walking Boots Trees“. They are inspiring, though, and I can’t help to think of a Stiletto Tree. Imagine the glitter, the violence of the heels, the red reflection of the Louboutin soles, the typographic sketches of those well-known logos, the parties, the stories, the seductions. What a sight. I shiver just picturing it.

Posted in Blog, Shoes

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About Me

I am an artist and writer. My recent practice performance, film, dance, photography and text, and my work has been performed, exhibited and published in many venues in Europe and the US. I have spoken at numerous conferences and events, including the Museum for the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the Medical Museum in Copenhagen, College Arts Association and the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society. When I am not following Freud, Lacan and Marx’s footsteps with my camera or creating performance works as part of my Athenaeum Research Fellowship at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I teach postgraduate students at Transart Institute.

I am currently immersed in an interdisciplinary project exploring knowledge and the body of the hysteric. In 2013, together with Child and Adolescent Mental Health practitioner Frances Davies, I co-edited the book ‘Madness, Women and the Power of Art’, to which I contributed a work authored with Eleanor Bowen. My book ‘Make Me Yours: How Art Seduces’ was published by Cambridge Scholars in 2016. In this text, investigates psychoanalytic approaches to making and understanding objects of seduction, including an examination of parallels between artistic and analytic practices, a study of Manolo Blahnik’s shoes as objects of desire, a disturbing encounter with Marcel Duchamp’s last work, and the creation of a psychoanalytically inspired Discourse of the Artefact, a framework enabling the circulation of questions and answers through a relational approach to artworks.