Tuesday, 17 February 2009
When I saw these children’s shoes on the flea-market stall in Berlin I not only thought of them as a pair but as having been worn by a girl, one girl. Before these shoes I had no interest in shoes and my need to have them puzzled me. I felt touched by them, pierced actually, by their confident asymmetry, the fact that dis/misproportion was so perfectly wed with similarity, with two-of-a-kindness.
I’m going back in time here, to when I found the shoes, to when I first made them part of my art-practice (at art-college) and further back to my childhood, as the shoes led me to someone I had all but forgotten: my cousin E., who was five years older than me and died when I was 12. My memory of her surprised me all these years after her death and I don’t think I’ve stopped thinking about her ever since.
I remember a photograph which turns out to be of myself. I saw her like this: motionless, still, peering into the eye of the camera with a small smile. Slightly curly brown bob, dark brown eyes ringed by black circles. She stands alone. A little girl with a hunchback and one foot in a shoe with a raised sole, to make up for a shorter leg. I remember that this shoe was of a strange shape, as if the foot in it was lumpy, twisted and contorted. When I find the photograph I realise that memory has played a trick on me: the smile is mine, I stand where I thought she stood, limbs intact. It makes me wonder what need her image touches in me.