Platforms, promotion and safety shoes for prostitutes.

Aphrodite Project

Platform shoes have always been controversial. They were originally used in Ancient Greece for raising the height of important characters in the Greek theatre but were similarly used by high-born prostitutes or courtesans in Venice in the 16th Century. During the 70s they became common fashion footwear but still somewhat ambiguous partly because many of the styles of the time never went through any formal design, partly because of associations with hippies, and (rather paradoxically) both feminists and prostitutes. In the 1990s they lost the shock value however, in their extreme expression, they are still associated with sex workers. The Aphrodite Project explores this connection in the Platforms artwork, an interactive, wearable device. It’s a conceptual tribute to the Greek goddess of love cult, a practical object for contemporary sex workers, and a medium for public dialogue. The special platforms heels feature an embedded LCD screen, GPS transmitters and audible alarm. Their functionality is based on interviews with prostitutes and is a mixture of promotion and safety. Promotion because the LCD screen with customized video and audio playing back is aimed to capture the attention of the clients. Safety because the audible alarm system with an extremely high audio alarm draws attention and scare off rapists and muggers; furthermore, after pressing a button the shoe sends an emergency signal to sex workers groups and to the local police, thanks to a customized GPS system. Applying positioning and transmission technologies to sex workers recognizes their function as public servants, as well as the dangers they face with because of their profession.

Valentina Culatti