Laura Gonzalez

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Shoe art… (part I) — 12 May 2007


… from Susanna Hesselberg


… from Melanie Pullen


… from Sylvie Fleury


… from Pilar Albarracin

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Louboutin… sigh — 10 Feb 2007

Shoes are one of those things I can’t resist. The inside signature, the hidden red on the heel throw shivers down my spine. What… who would I be if I wore these?

With many thanks to the Manolo, ever inspiring.

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How could anyone resist? — 10 Jan 2007

Liz Carine’s Shimmery Emerald Evening Peeptoe Pumps
From fashiontribes

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Objects of desire (and seduction) — 30 Sep 2006


From Office

Ambiguous shoes, harmless pumps with ankle straps reminiscent of S&M garments. Not one strap, but two. Angelical, innocent, and slightly perverse; reversible, challenging, weak and weakening.

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Holiday footwear — 9 Sep 2006

My recent 2-week holiday in Spain was mainly taken up by two activities: resting and thinking about shoes. Since talking about the former would probably make me tired again, I will concentrate on the latter. The train of thought started during a day-trip to San Sebastian, where N‚Äî and I witnessed a wonderfully professional street tango. If a few years ago I created a piece of work entitled “My life is like an Argentinean tango” is because it is in tango -with its melodramatic music; its sensual dance; its black, white and red colour scheme; and its shoes- where most of my fantasies reside.

Needless to say, the female tango dancer in San Sebastian had exquisit shoes, just battered enough from dancing:

That got me going. When I returned somewhere linked to the world wide web, I felt the need to get properly initiated into the propocols of Tango. I discovered that Glasgow is very good for courses and practicas. Information about where to get suitable footwear to spin and lift was also provided. I found heaven: heaven is where you can buy, amongst many other pairs of specially fitted shoes, the Yanella model. Recognize them? However, it is always dangerous to get what you desire.

One’s desires are not configured out of thin air. My mother firmly believes that, if she hasn’t bought me something, she hasn’t loved me enough. The shopping usually involves shoes as, given that my feet are a prudent size one, I get them when and where I can. My mother has the patience of a saint and the determination of a physics nobel price winner when it comes to small size, shoe-buying perseverance and, winter being round the corner and Scotland too far away from her, she bought me my first 2007 winter boots. Cold colour, round toe and elegant details is the talk of next season.

My new boots make me consider the role of shoes in contemporary arts practice and, of course, Naia del Castillo’s work had to feature. Stimulating photographs, beautiful boots:


Naia del Castillo, Cortejo

Adam Chodzko, in his usual witty, tragic way, thinks through the more conceptual aspects of shoes. Could we be Carrie if we bought some Manolos?
impractical shoes
Right:Adam Chodzko, M-path. Left: Phoebe’s “impractical” shoes

After all that thinking, I returned home to find a pink envelope. Inside the pink envelope, Phoebe had sent me some impractical shoes. These reminded me that impracticality is, indeed, a desirable characteristic when it comes to seductive shoes.

 

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Lust for shoes — 10 Aug 2006

shoes Excellent material for my forthcoming article on shoes: Lee Glendinning (2006) Lust for shoes drives women to bin the bills. The Guardian, Thursday August 10, 2006

Shoes wield a Cinderella-like transformative power – you can go from demure to seductive in under 60 seconds.

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Another shoe exhiition — 31 Jul 2006

With thanks to the always excellent Manolo and his friends Susan and Nina for pointing this out. Sounds like something I will need to refer to!

“Shoes: Innovations at Your Feet” Opens in USPTO Museum

A new exhibit opened on July 13, 2006 in the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Museum. ‚ÄúShoes: Innovations at Your Feet‚Äù highlights shoe technology past and present. Visitors to the museum can learn the history of patented footwear, view stylish innovations, and see how people customize their shoes for work. The exhibit is an entertaining view of all kinds of footwear that incorporates 19 th century models of patented inventions as well as recent accomplishments of today’s footwear industry, especially many brands in the areas of children’s shoes, work shoes, comfort and fashion.

USPTO MuseumThis exhibit conveys the fact that even everyday objects like shoes owe much of their evolution to the intellectual property protection provided to their designers,” noted Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Jon Dudas.

Museum display of First Lady shoesShoes can be practical, like the different types of shoes tailored to different working environments, or they can be great fun, like fashion shoes of high society. The exhibit shows what kinds of shoes a roofer, a chef, or a fireman might wear, and one can marvel at the size 23 work shoe of Shaquille O’Neal. Enjoy the sight of First Ladies’ fashion‚Äîfrom Mamie Eisenhower’s pink satin pumps to Lou Hoover’s gold velvet mules.

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The opposite of seduction — 23 Jul 2006

I agree with Manolo. Crocs are certainly the opposite of seduction.

Visually, they present an interesting juxtaposition: They share some elements of their proper function ((Preston, B. (2000) The function on things. A philosophical perspective on material culture. In Graves-Brown, P. ed. Matter, materiality and modern culture. London: Routledge)) and the the colour. Other than that, the perception, for a viewer (or owner) looking for a seductive experience, couldn’t be different.

The seductive experience is not a question of comfort, either, but of the experience of wearing these shoes, mainly for girls –this is a gender specific issue, I am sure–. What drives this experience is the appearance, the way the shoes look and what that may mean. Crocs encase whereas Blahnik reveals the foot; Crocs protect feet whereas Blahnik hugs them with the straps; Crocs have holes for ventilation (implying smelly, sweaty feet?) whereas Blahnik has bows; Crocs widen the feet whereas Blahnik lenghens the legs, hinting at, enhancing other parts of femenine anatomy and provoking a specific way of walking.

I’d like to do an experiment. I’d loke to wear each of these of a different foot and hop from one to the other… I wonder what kinds of psychological impact may this Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde study bring…

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Shoes, mirrors and net dresses — 21 Jun 2006

I am reading Baudrillard’s The ecstasy of communication, by far the lightest of his books. I can say I am even enjoying it. While reading it, I can’t take this piece off my mind. This is my favourite 2006 Degree Show piece so far… Its mirrors, its nostalgia, its absence are inescapable… A riddle, a challenge, just that which is at the heart of seduction.

degree show
Leah Avril Gourley
BA(Hons ) Fine Art Sculpture
The Glasgow School of Art

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On Manolos — 7 May 2006

I can’t remember what were my expectations on the Sunday I chose to see Manolo Blahnik’s exhibition at the Design Museum in London. What I do remember, however is being very surprised by it. The shoes, displayed like unique art pieces in theatrical settings, had about them all the strangeness of Surrealist artworks. In the first room, a white wall was made out of the shoe boxes displaying the Manolo Blahnik logo.


Exhibition images courtesy of D&AD

Separated from the viewers by a museum-type rail, abandoned in the corner, dear shoes were casually left there by some kind of eccentric marquise, rich enough to own innumerable pairs. The shoes were often displayed at a rate of one per room and surrounded by matching attrezzo: velvet curtains, chairs, all colour-coordinated. In other rooms, there were references to the cultural value of the creations, showing models wearing them in catwalks and parties or that famous episode of Sex and the City where Carrie pleads her mugger not to steal her “Manolos” (“‚ÄúYou can take my Fendi baguette, my ring, and my watch. But Please don‚Äôt take my Manolo Blahniks!‚Äù). In yet more rooms, there were references to Blahnik’s technical ability through displaying the core of his very tall stilettos and using diagrammes to explicate how the weight of the female body may distribute itself in the arches, bridges, vaults, buttresses and tracery of his small scale architecture. The ethnographic contribution of his work was also displayed by means of cases like the ones found in Natural History museums, thematically and visually grouping the shoes.


Exhibition images courtesy of D&AD

There was an air of hysteria about the gallery, followed by bored men surprised at the constant little cries being uttered in what normally is a quiet gallery space… My own desire to wear them, to try them on and feel I was someone else was exacerbated by the distance at which the museum had decided to keep these precious shoes. Just imagine the logistics of letting vast amounts of women touch them, try them and the costs of the insurance policy of such irresponsible behaviour. It is probably for the best they were displayed this way but, for that very same reason, it was a deeply unsatisfying show. I looked and drew and nothing could satiate what I thought wearing them (not even owning them) would give me.


Exhibition images courtesy of D&AD

The substantial side of the exhibition also contributed to that feeling of un-fulfillment. The collection was certainly representative: there was a shoe for every occasion: casual, elegant, playful, daring, comfortable, uncomfortable, silly, summery, wintery, red, white, purple… Every possibility and every need were covered. When buying shoes, I often doubt between at least two pairs. Normally not being able to afford both, the choice is always a difficult one. I always want to own more shoes than I have and the chain is interminable. Owning all the shoes displayed at the Design Museum (O what a dream!), would instantly resolve the conflicts I was faced with in shoe outlets.


Exhibition images courtesy of D&AD

The shoes displayed were female shoes but I don’t think there’s a masculine equivalent when it comes to footwear. Why might that be? I suspect that, even though the exhibition and the act of buying shoes happen in the Symbolic register, the act of wearing special shoes is intimately related to the Imaginary register. Wearing “Manolos” may give us an illusion of wholeness with something we would like to be. Of course, like in the Oedipal case, that which we-would-like-to-be, we are not, we never were: it is an illusion.


Exhibition images courtesy of D&AD

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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.