Suzanne Lovell Inc


The haunting symbolism of 440 pairs of high heels

January 08, 2020

The varied high heels in sync.

Image courtesy of: My Modern Met

The installation of 440 pairs of high heels placed on an enormous wall has made a bold statement… and that is exactly what the artist Vahit Tuna wanted. In a country where, in 2018, 440 women were killed by their partner, the haunting installation is drawing attention to the all important issue of domestic violence.

Although different in style, each pair of heels is black.

Image courtesy of: Apricity

Tuna came up with the idea for this installation from a funerary custom common to some parts of Turkey where shoes of the deceased are hung outside of their house.

In this case, the shoes will stay put for six months on a wall curated by then not-for-profit art platform, Yankose. Yankose was founded by Kahve Dunyasi, a Turkish coffee chain… and the platform seeks a rotating roster of artists to install work across the 2,800 square feet of wall space.

Vahit Tuna in front of his work, “Untitled.”

Image courtesy of: Awesome Invensions

Tuna, a graphic designer, entitled the installation “Untitled.” Traditionally, Tuna has strayed away from showing his work indoors… and in this case, showcasing his work outside a building in a busy part of Istanbul only draws further attention from both art enthusiasts and passersby.

We are assured that anyone walking by will take pause and reflect upon “Untitled”‘s meaning.

Illuminated at night…

Image courtesy of: Yankose

For Turkey, to have such a public display in such a public arena on such a terrible problem shows that the country is moving in the right direction. Looking up the wall, it is impossible to ignore the sheer number of shoes. When you relate the pairs of shoes back to lives destroyed, it is even more glaring of an offense.

“A Boxy Room” by Nermin Er.

This previous installation at the same location speaks to everyone’s basic needs to take shelter and have protection and security as a way of living on this earth. The boxes reference the mass housing projects in Istanbul… the small bird houses are attempts to give space to birds whose “living rights” have been taken over by overbuilding.

Image courtesy of: Yankose

About the public installation, Yankose said that Tuna focuses “in his practice on power, reckoning with power and taking positions according to it, Tuna looks at the basics of violence, especially in this geography, in a world where, today, one in three women is the victim of physical or sexual violence.”

Tuna hopes that the installation will draw much needed attention to this topic as in Turkey, femicide is on the rise. The artist believes that raising awareness is the only way to combat this critical issue.