ALTHOUGH Richard Branson claimed recently on linkedin “I’ve never seen a separation between work and play – it’s all living”, there’s a shoe that does: It’s the Borosana shoe, that the women ‘workers’ of documenta 14 will be wearing whilst on the job (but maybe elsewhere too however, because it is kind of trendy). In fact I have a feeling that the Borosana shoe will become the arty ‘it’ fashion accessory for April onwards, and those in the know, will be doing some ‘shoe spotting’ as well as some ‘art spotting’ around town.
Here’s the history behind it: Yugoexport is a “blind non-aligned oral corporation” established by documenta 14 artist Irena Haiduk in 2015. Incorporated in the United States (where corporations are people), launched in Paris and headquartered in Belgrade.The presence of Yugoexport in documenta 14 proceeds from the ground up – with the distribution of ergonomic footwear to the female workforce of documenta gGmbH in Athens.
All women (or rather all those, regardless of gender, seduced by the prospect of wearing ergonomic women’s footwear) employed for documenta 14 are eligible to receive a pair of Borosana Shoes within the rubric of ‘Nine Hour Delay’, a work that Haiduk initiated on a minor scale in 2012.
Of ‘Nine Hour Delay’, Irena Haiduk writes: “The Borosana shoe was first developed over a nine-year period (1960-69) at Borovo Rubber Industry Headquarters in Vukovar, Yugoslavia. After being designed and tested by the Borovo female workforce and an orthopedic surgeon, the shoe was mandatory for Yugoslav women working in the public sector. Borosana was launched in 1969, in white and navy colors, featuring an ergonomic platform, calculated as ideal for nine hours of standing without hurting the wearer’s spine. In the declining years of Yugoslav communism the model was withdrawn from mass production. Fabrication was abandoned when Vukovar became a war zone in 1991.
Each time this project is exhibited Borosana becomes the official work shoe of the host institution advancing the constructivist maxim of great utilitarian design in service of the working woman. The shoe extends the architecture of labor and provides the wearers with a distinction between labor time and leisure time. Borovo remains the last public Yugoslav infrastructure. The inability to legally split and privatize the company’s public assets prevents Yugoslavia from fully formally splitting to this day. With every new step Yugoslavia persists (insists).”
The use of the Borosana shoe here in Athens as part of the documenta 14 events, is the fullest iteration of ‘Nine Hour Delay’ to date, making the Borosana-wearing army of women even larger, and turning Athens into a runway and a production line of sorts.
If you want to learn more about this project, then head on down to Parko Eleftherias, 5pm, March 30, where Irena Haiduck will be talking about the progress of Yugoexport.
* Parko Eleftherias, Athens Municipality Arts Center, Vassilissis Sofias, 11521 Athens
Thursday, March 30, 2017, 5 pm. Free entrance.