We saw the first one in Brunswick while we were on our yarn bomb trail. Grace thought that the shoes tied together by their laces and tossed over the power cable meant that there was a tinnie house nearby. I thought it was something to do with gangs marking their territory. Or maybe a group of bullies had ambushed an unfortunate kid after school and thrown his shoes up there? This seemed the least likely explanation since a few days later we saw another pair of shoes dangling above a street in Fitzroy. Unless that group of bullies really got around.
Last week on my way to the train station I snapped a pair in Thornbury. I looked around furtively before taking the photo, worried that if the criminal gang responsible saw me, they would come after me with a gun, or possibly with a length of shoelace to garrotte me.
It was early in the morning and the street was quiet so I took my photo quickly, tucked my camera back in my bag and went on my way. I probably would have forgotten all about it if I hadn’t received the e-mail from Anna, who has now left Melbourne to continue her round the world adventure.
Anna had been doing some internet research and discovered that the shoes are a form of street art. Shoefiti, if you will. I don’t know why we didn’t figure that out for ourselves. In a city like Melbourne, where the laneways are covered in graffiti, the bike racks wear knitted jackets and shop windows form quirky exhibition spaces, that is the most obvious explanation.
I’m not sure where I stand on shoefiti at the moment. Yarn bombing and graffiti have some obvious value: they are appealing to look at and some creativity has gone into making them. Anyone can toss a pair of shoes over a power line. (Actually, I’m not sure if I could. I might miss and concuss some innocent passerby). And sure, the sight of them did provoke the whole “what does it mean?” discussion, but only in the sense of “what are those shoes doing there?” and not in an existential “why are we here?” sense. Like the love locks, I can’t help but feel that shoefiti is wasteful.
I’m still working away at my yarn bombing experiment, knitting through my mistakes, but I’ll be damned if I’m throwing a perfectly good pair of shoes away for the sake of art.