Shoes at the Fair

The modern day art fair is a magical traveling circus. Drab convention centers and luxury white tents on empty urban fields are transformed, for a few days only, into glittering palaces of art.

“If you build it, they will come.” When the doors open the art lovers flock to the ball. Opening nights are glamorous occasions, full of pageantry.

There are beautiful debutantes in their figure hugging finery, students and hipsters in shabby chic and mature collectors, the male species in pin stripe suits, brogues and silk cravats and their female compatriots in designer dresses with sparkling accessories. It’s Gatsby, Sex and The City, Carnival and Pride all rolled into one.

Many visitors arrive in costume to see and be seen. They may bear the uniform of a tribe or an ensemble that belies their artistic allegiances. And nothing is more telling, more replete with signification than the shoes. They are themselves a canvas of expression connoting social status, artistic enterprise and coolness.

The shoes at the fair are a simulacrum for the art on the walls. A miniaturized, personalized traveling fashion show that mimics the paintings and sculptures on display.   You can look up at the walls  (“High art”) or down at the floor (“Low-art”) and both will be a feast for the eyes and a telling commentary on the aesthetic tastes and preoccupations of the day.


- Andrew Burgess, 2017