Sira-Zoé Schmid created several video and photographic works in Beijing that examine shoes as social uniforms that occupy a space between individuality and collective identity.
A first glance at the two-part video “The Yellow Shoe” does not reveal a specific geographic location as it focuses on the feet of bus passengers. In our world of globalized consumerism and standardized cultural codes that span great distances, the shoes in the video appear as if they could have been bought and worn almost anywhere on the planet. It is only after some time that the background noises and the passengers’ behavior patterns reveal the scene to be located in China.
Schmid thus reminds us that, as identity-shaping clothing, shoes can be instrumental in our efforts to associate with groups—be they cultural, political, or professional—or to consciously distance ourselves from them. The far-reaching implications of contemporary tendencies of conforming cultural codes on the one hand, and the individual’s means of outward self-expression on the other, also become evident in her work.
Text by Mag. Nicole Alber
English translation by Penaloza Patzak & So.