In collaboration with the shoe brand Melissa, New York-based designer Sebastian Errazuriz is getting a lot of attention for “12 Shoes for 12 Lovers:” a series of 12, 3-D printed shoe sculptures inspired by his former romantic relationships.
The shoes themselves are beautiful and imaginative--one resembles a frozen splash of spilled milk, another has a green plastic army man affixed to the toe. But the whole conceit is casually misogynistic. Each shoe has been given a name based on its "muse," one of the artist's ex-girlfriends, and most of these play into reductive stereotypes of women: “The Virgin,” “Gold Digger,” “Hot Bitch,” “Cry Baby,” “Ice Queen,” "Honey."
The shoes are paired with mostly neck-down, naked photos of the woman, as well as stories about each affair. “She had a crazy body. We fucked. She cooked. She cleaned up,” he writes of “Honey: Natasha,” represented by a yellow shoe in the texture of honeycomb. Of the “Ice Queen," he says: “When Sophie walked down the runway I felt like a kid who had received the Lamborghini posted in his childhood bedroom,” and then goes on to describe this fancy car’s drivability.
In an interview with Core77 about “12 Shoes for 12 Lovers,” the artist was asked if he'd received responses from the exes. "'Heart Breaker’ wrote me an email to say she didn't know if she should feel incredibly embarrassed, enraged or honored but that if I ever revealed her real name she would kill me. ‘Gold Digger’ hates my guts," he said. (No surprise there.)
Errazuriz's Website says that the project “looks to expose contradictions and absurdities that challenge everyday life precepts and address deeply seated taboos. "12 Shoes for 12 Lovers" is an extension of the artist’s penchant for addressing controversial topics by confronting these through the prism of his own experience as expressed through his work.”
Errazuriz is a successful artist, represented by Cristina Grajales Gallery in New York, and his work has been shown in museums around the world. His first solo exhibition will happen in 2014 at the Carnegie Museum of Art. So as an artist, he does have the capacity to do what he claims to set out to do in his website's description of “12 Shoes for 12 Lovers" and “challenge established norms in art and design.”
Sadly, there’s nothing challenging or unconventional about these stereotypical portrayals that reduce women to mere tropes. Something challenging would have been to tell the stories of former lovers humanely, with the women drawn as three-dimensional characters rather than clichéd caricatures.
As of now, only six of the 12 shoes have been released--the second batch comes out soon. "12 Shoes for 12 Lovers" will be exhibited at Miami Basel at Melissa Pop-Up Miami from December 6th to January 6th.