shoesandspices 2015

15 Nov 2015 : Critical Path, Rushcutters Bay, Sydney, NSW, Australia

shoesandspices was created for Speak Local at the Interchange Festival 2015. The performance comprised two parts: the first was performed by WeiZen Ho outside. For the second part I created an installation which was staged with audience participation indoors.These two distinct works overlapped and I took the role of colonial reader in the first and WeiZen joined in the procession of the second part. For this performance we used spices for their references to kitchen, tradition, trade, for their colours and scents. For WeiZen the history of the Dutch East India Company, trading through The Straits of Melaka, is tied to a history of colonisation in Malaya and of the Chinese Diaspora. WeiZen basted her body in spices in the manner of preparation that is done to marinate meats before cooking. For my work the 20 metre long installation of squares of spices referenced work by the artists Wolfgang Laib, Anish Kapoor and Franko B. I introduced shoes and incense, opening onto so many cultural markers and taboos. My references were to many diasporas, and to holocaust memorials in Washington and Budapest. The incense inside the shoe, that is, a smoking shoe, was a reference to the idea of human disappearance in another way: when a person is struck by lightning it is said that only their smoking shoes remain. The audience were invited to walk barefoot through a pool of water and then across the squares of spices, leaving their footprints behind. At the other end they sat on stool whilst their feet were washed clean by myself and volunteers. The last person to walk up the line was WeiZen.

To view Issue 6 of Critical Dialogues on Intercultural Practice with contributions by WeiZen Ho and myself go to:

Project Details
Dates 15 Nov 2015
Duration 45 minutes
Collaborators WeiZen Ho
Producer Critical Path
Category duets
Credits Photos: Heidrun Löhr