Ruth Ketterer Harris Lecture 2023: Shoe Obsessed: Power, Identity, and the Manufacturing of Desire
From Laura Peck
Fashion is anything but frivolous. This talk will explore the economic and social implications of footwear and how mass production, market fragmentation and the commodification of identities has made Western culture “shoe obsessed.”
The 2023 Harris Lecture is presented by Elizabeth Semmelhack, Director and Senior Curator of the Bata Shoe Museum (BSM) in Toronto, Canada. With a collection of over 15,000 objects, the Bata Shoe Museum celebrates the style, development, and function of footwear. As Senior Curator at the Bata Shoe Museum, Elizabeth applies her cultural art history background to the mission of the Museum by exploring the multiple roles and meanings of footwear through innovative and engaging exhibitions. She has curated dozens of exhibitions at the BSM including Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels, Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture, On a Pedestal: From Renaissance Chopines to Baroque Heels, and Beauty, Identity, Pride: Native North American Footwear. Semmelhack was named by FASHION magazine as one of the world’s top five game-changing fashion curators and has been featured in articles and interviews in a range of publications including The New York Times, National Geographic, Vogue, Elle, InStyle, W Magazine, GQ Magazine, and Women’s Wear Daily. She has also published a number of books and catalogues related to her exhibitions and research. The 2023 Harris Lecture will relate to her current exhibition at the BSM, Obsessed: How Shoes Became Objects of Desire.