Feast for the Eyes: The Trek for Killer Heels

Killer Heels

The Killer Heels exhibit originally scheduled to run from September 10, 2014– February 15, was extended until March 1, 2015 due to popular demand. I attended the exhibit on February 13, 2015. The following is a narrative of what happened on that fateful Friday the 13th.

I did not expect to be this late. My phone read 2:53 pm, and I was still on the number two train eastward bound towards the Brooklyn Museum. From my address in upper Manhattan to the Eastern Parkway address of the museum, Google maps estimated an hour and thirty-six minute commute (Murphy’s Law notwithstanding). Like most of their regular weekday operating hours of 11 am to 6pm, on this particular Friday the Brooklyn museum was open for only three more hours. Would it be enough time?  With each abrupt stop, I became keenly aware of what felt like a nest of angry wasps writhing in the very pit of my stomach.   I could feel the anxious hum of energy reverberate beneath my very fingertips, as I resisted the urge to pull the hair out of my head by the roots.

Yes, it was that serious.

A choir of cherub angels were singing, “Hallelujah,” in the background as I completed my mecca by reaching the Brooklyn Museum, true story.

Finally! FINALLY!  Twenty minutes later, I was released from the three-ton metal cabin of death, and when I emerged sprinting from the subway, I breathed a sigh of relief. There before me against a bright, blue, flawless sky, stood a building reminiscent of the White House–sans the twenty-foot high irongates to keep out the  masses—and of course weathered a few darker shades of  grey . My cold, dead raisin of a heart fluttered a beat at the sight, as I practically skipped (skipped! I tell you!) across the street and into building. Sharing a shy smile with the guard who was (hopefully) the only witness to the spectacle I made of myself, I veered sharply to the left behind a wall, to count the few bills I had in my possession before I came face to face with general admissions.

Yes, I am that classy.

The Brooklyn Museum is a wonderful institution that has a “suggested contributions” policy meaning you pay what you can, instead of firm admission prices.  More than likely this is in an effort to keep the arts accessible to the general public (Bless!), rather than reducing themselves to an ivory tower for the privileged few.  The suggested contribution for a student with a valid ID is ten dollars; the usual adult admission is sixteen dollars, but for this recent college graduate who had the bright idea to major in English Lit.  admission was five dollars.

As soon as I walked through the doorway, it was immediate sensory overload. The bass in Zach Gold’s   Spike (2014) film installation is both hypnotic and yet, simultaneously assaulting my ears at X decibels. I do not know the value of “x,” and I do not care to solve for its value, but I am glad my ears did not bleed.

Image Courtesy of Brooklyn Musuem

Zach Gold film still from Spike, 2014. Wall-mounted video panels. Courtesy of Zach Gold. Image Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum. Yes, “Armor.”

An Amazonian warrior in an armor of gold lay stretched out in a cerulean field of flowers with samurai blades as the heels for her strappy shoes. So impractical, so very punk rock. I want ten pairs.  Nubian bodies bedazzled in diamonds roared at each other, before wrestling for dominance. More than likely problematic and not sure what that had to do with shoes, but okay.

"I Would Die" Sandals

Syrian Sandal, 1920s. Wood and Mother of Pearl. On loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NewYork.

I saw France to the tune of the shoe montage in Sofia Coppola’s, Marie Antoinette (2006).  From the high heels of France and the chopines of Italy, the exhibit delineated to the predecessors of the platform shoe, the 20th century Syrian sandals.

Or as I call them, the “I Would Die” sandals, as in I would die if I used these twelve-inch wooden heeled sandals on the wet, tiled, bathhouse floors. This of course was their intended purpose.

[3:29 pm] I had just left France and entered China when I felt it: the deep knawing akin to the Lady in Black dragging her fingernails though the lining of my stomach walls. I tried to remind this organ I had not too long ago spent five dollars worth of food money to get me in this exhibit, and I was not leaving until I saw all of it.

I vaguely remember Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City regaling one of her future conquests of when she was an up-and-coming writer, and how she would forfeit her meager earnings (ergo: food money) for cigarettes and the latest issue of Vogue magazine. This was no great comfort to me as I tried to massage away the hunger pains. There is still so much to see! Shut up stomach! Let my eyeballs feast on the beauty before me!

[4:26 pm] The lines of pleasure and pain are blurred. In the words of R. Kelly, “My mind is telling me no, but my body! My body!”  You know it’s bad when you find yourself quoting random has-been, 90’s R&B singers.  

I round the corner.

Oh God, there’s more.

[5:45 pm] There are heels with wheels, and wings, and horse feet! This could be Dr. Seuss’ wet dream! The fashion majors have come clamoring. There is hope! Surely, if they found their way in, I can find my way out!

Still!  The exit eludes me!

Still!—is that the Gift shop?

Brooklyn Muesum’s exhibition Killer Heels was a wonderful, dimly lit, slice of heaven! It was well worth the four hour round -trip voyage, my stomach devouring itself, and people clamoring over each other to take pictures of a pair of horseshoes.  Needless to say, Killer Heels exhibit is best viewed on a full stomach, and not just on a breakfast of tea and toast. Please learn from my mistakes.

I recommend for those who are in the NYC area to go see the exhibit before it wraps up on March 1st. Run! Don’t walk!  It’s not like you’re wearing 20th century Syrian bath sandals!

Amen, sister.

From the reflection wall at the end of the Killer Heels exhibit. My image, but not my post-it. We must be kindred spirits.

Jennifer Ortiz
Hi! I'm Jennifer. I graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor's in English. I am currently summoning the gumption to travel the world and revamping my rhetorical film criticism/ appreciation blog . I love books, dogs, and super-chill instrumentals. Here's looking at you Penguin Cafe! Secret Obsessions: 90's angry girl punk music, Parks and Rec, and fashion.