440 Pairs of Women’s Shoes Mark Femicide in Turkey

Pairs of black high heels placed on two towering walls of a building
Pairs of black high heels placed on two towering walls of a building
Photo credit: Yanköşe

Some 440 women in Turkey were murdered by their partners in 2018 alone. Turkish artist Vahit Tuna decided to create a visually startling installation to raise public awareness of the horrors of domestic violence.

The artist’s work uses 440 pairs of black high heels, placed on two towering walls of a building in Istanbul’s Kabataş neighborhood. Each pair represents a victim of femicide (sex-based hate crime) in Turkey. The usage of shoes has cultural significance as a nod to the Turkish custom of hanging the shoes of a deceased individual outside of their residence.

Vahit Tuna’s installation, curated by the global non-profit art platform Yanköşe, will be open to the public for the next six months. In that time, the artist hopes his daring representation of domestic violence, which continues to escalate in Turkey, will act as a mediator for public debate and awareness. Tuna says, “We wanted everyone passing by the road to see [the work]. This is why we did not want to host the exhibition in a closed area.”

The display stretches over 2,800 square feet (260 square meters) in a well-trafficked area of the Kahve Dünyası branch in the city of Kabataş, where Yanköşe regularly curates projects from artists within the community in an effort to raise awareness of important issues. “What this project does is that it both raises awareness regarding women murders and also materializes this issue like a sculpture or monument,” says the artist Vahit Tuna.

Wall of black high heels
Photo credit: Flufoto

In a world where femicide is on the rise, the art community is using its influence to stand up against violence against women. As one of the few public art installations in Turkey, Vahit Tuna’s wall of shoes makes a bold statement without saying a single word.