Shoe Shop: Walking Through Africa, the Arts and Beyond

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Toyi-toyi and loiter with intent, but beware of the agapanthus.' An 'open space' publication, Shoe shop is an experiment in imagining different paths - and talking in different tongues - on Africa, public art, migration, beauty, movement, exclusion, arrival, violence, stories, journeys, literature and inherent humanity; and the need to imagine different perspectives without forgetting your own. It is a site for loitering, waiting, and for questions to be raised and answered later. The book exists as a bridge between the project, Migration & Media (started in 2006 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany and its last iteration in Bamako in 2011), and an evolving Shoe shop exhibition to be held in greater Johannesburg in May 2012, which will address walking and movement as literal and conceptual spaces. Migration & Media has been variously realised as film, literature and visual arts. Within this context European and African artists and academics were invited to think about the perception and self-representation of migration issues in the arts. The beginning point of the book is a struggle with the South African notion of public art, and trying to speak about it differently. 'Land; is where it all started - the point of original trauma and injustice. Today still, it is the glaring inequality of the untransformed landscape that stands as testimony of a continuing structural and social apartheid. It's all about space, restricted space, and how we can think about and look at movement and space in different ways. Is there place to disarm, for escapism, for beauty, for care, for the sole pleasure of movement within this space? The idea of migration in South Africa is of particular significance. It would be close to impossible to find a single individual whose history and self-definition is not related to some form of migration - from roving peoples, settlers and trekkers, to the more recent realities of the Group Areas Act and forced removals. In post-apartheid South Africa, the influx of foreign Africans has been important in terms of a renewed pan-African dream - an Africa with 'Western standards' - but has also served to highlight in some ways the troubled space of South Africans' self-definition. Think xenophobia, violence, kwerekwere, mobility, paths. Think feet, physicality, and shoes; about shapes and speed of real and imagined movements, invented maps, possible goals and strange futures in order to get away from overarching narratives and hierarchical thinking, to make positions subjective and say 'I'.