I haven’t really stopped to think about the significance of shoes with the laces tied together hanging from an overhead wire, before Kasa pointed them out. It’s not really that visible here in Finland and though I have seen it in numerous American films, it hasn’t really seemed that significant (well, aside from Wag the Dog). There is no one reason to toss the shoes but apparently shoefiti is associated with drug trade (also with rites of passage, bullying and many other reasons). In Chicago it is strongly associated with crime:
Others believe that whatever meaning the shoes once had, it’s gone now. It’s just something kids do for fun.
“They grab them, tie them up and throw them,” said Julio Diaz, 34, as high-tops dangled over his head in Humboldt Park. “It’s like an old-school habit.”
Whatever the case, city officials say the shoes are an eyesore, a safety hazard and a potential contributor to crime.
“It might appear to be a juvenile prank, but it’s not,” said Matt Smith, spokesman for the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation. “My experience is that it’s somehow announcing the availability of drugs, not something we think should be out there.” (from Chicago Tribune)
It seems to me that shoefiti should be understood in the context of other street arts from graffiti to knitta. The act in itself does not contain a specific meaning, but naturally it can carry very complex messages. Has anyone used shoefiti in a pervasive game yet? I would be surprised if it hasn’t been done.
Images from Flickr users blandname, edkohler and . SantiMB ..