Sunday, August 29, 2010

heels step into a higher cycle

There was something about this on Salon a couple of days ago: somebody who goes by the name of giddyspinster makes flower pots out of stripper heels, and sells them on her etsy page:

After having their top removed, the shoes are drilled for drainage and sanded. Giddyspinster's plants of choice are cacti and succulents, which, we must understand, are her best metaphor for the 'the increasingly artificial nature of American femininity, and the impossible images that women face in our society. It's a prickly, spiky, sticky situation...'.

And if books on feminism overflow your library, why not stack them neatly in this book holder made of upcycled stilettos?

For a moment there, I thought these objects claim to be art. If they did, I'd write a longer paragraph saying that it's cliche and I'd also insert that video from Ghost World about the tampon in a cup pretending to be an art object. I don't quite follow the logic of this metaphor, and I think that heels can't help being cliches even when they're mocked. At the same time, I like the idea of making them into something else. What rubs me the wrong way about giddyspinster's approach is that it perpetuates the shoe fetishism instead of dismantling it. Either that, or the fact that in my eyes these shoes are kitschy beyond salvation through upcycling.


  1. :) funny post.

    about the state of the art: you know, there's also the option of "playing with" a cliché, a concept, or a norm. i guess it's a postmodern thing: acknowledging that we cannot get rid of the strippers' shoes...

  2. sure, but isn't this approach a cliche as well?

    you know, she also does stuff with mascara tubes, which I like more because it's less flashy, less trodden, more ingenious. But shoes (like fishnets and lipstick) have been turned inside out too many times already, for various purposes, including critique.

  3. i wouldn't put my cacti in there)

  4. hm. maybe you're more experienced with strippers' shoes than me.

    whether that's a cliché too is a tricky question. especially because it leads to an endless spiral which, unlike tracy's, doesn't lead to anything transcental but, on the contrary, never stops. everything becomes cliché.

    it's just like with people being unconventional. or conventional. depending how you look at it, they are all conventional at heart. or repressed perverts. the latter is zizek's view. "at bottom, we are all repressed perverts," he maintained.

    i would totally put my cacti in there. :)

  5. Donian: me neither)

    Fredi: that's right. However, good taste is historically conditioned: had this been done in, dunno, the '50s, I'd look at it differently.

  6. i mean, i see those enough every evening i go to a strip club).

  7. i never pay attention to the shoes).

  8. Donian: well, if it brings out such bad memories, then of course you shouldn't put your cacti in there..)

    Fredi: alright, but doesn't this whole, um, feminist critique focusing on the shoe sound familiar? High heels, lipstick, and corsets have been notoriously pointed out as oppressive and used to make subversive 'artsy' statements. About a zillion times. Which is why I can't appreciate it in 2010. Yes, I'm saying the same thing I said before, but for a moment there I thought you took me to be saying simply that these shoes are chiche for being out of fashion...

  9. yes, yes...

    and by the way, you know whose voice i hear when i read "for a moment there i thought..."? the master's.

    i'm off-topic again, i know...
    it's cause i never pay attention to the shoes...

  10. ... but, if you're so bored by the upcycling of high heels, why the post?

  11. the master's? i like that picture but i'm afraid your allusion is lost on me..

    people talk about how bored they are with everything all the time. if everyone else is doing it, why can't i? Now seriously: because I like upcycling (and downcycling and recycling) and it's a good idea, yet aesthetically it doesn't appeal to me. Now, if these were doc martens...And even more seriously: because I'm sympathetic to the spirit but not to the particular instantiation.

  12. ah, i see.

    well, i must say how surprised i am that you neither remember who coined the phrase nor are aware that there is only one master in the universe. who, i admit, doesn't have strong affiliations to music (except he likes choir concerts). remember thomas?

    somehow, i have a very vivid memory of how he puts his hand to his forehead and says: "you know, for a moment there, I thought..."
    (unfortunately, i don't have a very vivid memory of what comes after the three dots. the phrase cannot have been the most important thing! i can also remember the shoes: black and plain.)

  13. ))

    but let's be fair, he didn't coin the phrase...And more: 'As far as I'm concerned,...', and 'all things being equal'.

  14. he didn't coin them, but he is indeed a strong representative of those phrases...
    so concerned and equal, he is...