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Red Shoes: a project for social change

Article: Red de Mujeres Finlandia, translated by Gloria De Felice

Editor-in-Chief: Gloria De Felice

"Violence against women has no borders or social status and affects all women equally." (Elina Chauvet)

Photo: Patricia Locor, CDMX 2020

Elina Chauvet is an architect by training, and a visual artist with 30 years of experience. Elina is originally from one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico: Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. The city is located on the border of Mexico and the United States. The word femicide was coined there because of the high number of women murdered for more than thirty years. Nowadays still, many women are murdered with total impunity for the killer.

Her tie with public and relational art was consolidated with the installation called “Red Shoes” (Zapatos Rojos). Elina approaches her perspective regarding violence experienced by women, specifically domestic violence in Mexico and all over the world. Elina´s sister was murdered by her husband. For Elina, this installation represents a way to work on her grief.

Photo: Phrancesco Garnieri, Rome 2020

On the last 26th October, Red De Mujeres interviewed Elina for PlusCollective. She gave additional information about her “Red Shoes” installation.

The first installation in Ciudad Juárez: “Red is the color of love, Red is the color of hope”

The first installation took place in Ciudad Juárez, on August 22, 2009, using 33 pairs of shoes donated by the community.

The reason why Elina chose shoes was because they are one of the most common elements in the identification of murdered women, and also because of the big number of shoe stores in Ciudad Juárez.

Photo: Elina Chauvet, Ciudad Juárez 2009

On a personal level, the shoes remind her of the relationship with her sister, since they wore the same size.

The shoes, from different perspectives, became a symbol that Elina well conceptualized in her artwork.

She chose the color red that symbolizes the relationship with blood.

The spilled blood is also the blood that unites us. Love is represented in red. Red is the color of love. The love of mothers, the love for her sister. Red is the color of hope” Elina said.

The Red Shoes installation around the world, following the same process “If we love each other as sisters, we can help each other”

The Red Shoes installation has been organized in many cities around the world over the years.

According to the artist Elina there is a sort of “protocol” to follow to replicate her installation.

The shoes used in the installation must be donated and hand-painted in red. To give and to get involved in the creation process is an act of generosity. The Red Shoes are symbolizing the awareness of the absence of women who were murdered for being women.

Her purpose of “the shoe painting days” is to gather women together to speak, share, reflect on the issue of violence against women .

“If we love each other as sisters, we can help each other. We should separate our economic, geographical, and cultural differences and converge in love. We should be united to end sexism. The relationship between art and society cannot be diluted” said Elina Chauvet with conviction. In the “Red Shoes” art installation, this relationship embraces a powerful magnitude.

Photo: Rosamaría Bolom, Helsinki 2020

The “Red Shoes” installation is a sort of “traveling art work” that carries a message of social change, occupies public spaces to communicate and to raise awareness of how crucial it is to stop gender-based violence.

“The violence can be stopped. The important thing is not to isolate yourself. You have to ask for help. There is always someone to reach out to. Don't give up, don't lose hope ”. Elina Chauvet.

The “Red Shoes” installation in Helsinki: “Violence against women in Finland needs to be taken into account”

The Red Shoes installation will take place for the first time in Finland. On November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the installation will be displayed in Kansalaistori, Helsinki, thanks to the excellent work of women and people interested in taking action in Finland.

Through this installation, the organizers stand in solidarity with those who fight for the abolition of gender-based violence all over the world. But the main goal is to show that also in Finland, a country classified as the happiest in the world, violence against women is a a serious issue and should be more taken into account.

Photo: Gloria De Felice, 2020

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