I recently explained how I found a woman’s shoe on the street and decided to use it as a prop for photographs. That has blossomed into a photography project I’m (tentatively) calling “Cleopatra’s Shoes, or the F Me Pump”. Why Cleopatra? Here’s how Shakespeare introduces her in Antony and Cleopatra:
I suppose that Harvey Weinstein, Leon Wieseltier, Donald Trump, and other of their ilk think that a woman wearing such a shoe is “asking for it”. That betrays their insecurity, contempt for women, and utter lack of imagination.
Cleopatra may well have been flaunting it, but that’s very different from asking for it. If she is flaunting it, then, she may signal that you are welcome to ask for it provided you do so with desire, imagination, politesse, and respect. She’s also playing. And you know how the cliché goes, don’t you? Fun is fundamental.
And, you know what, I’ll bet Antony flaunted his pumps too. Here’s how Shakespeare sends him off the stage:
Between them, Antony and Cleopatra ruled half the Mediterranean world. And they delighted in their F Me Pumps. It behooves us to do the same.
Here are some relevant videos pointed out to me by a few of my Facebook friends; friends, incidentally, who are also real-life friends.
Here’s the photos I’ve collected so far. Click on the angle brackets to scroll through the photos and click on the photo itself to be whisked away to to my Flickr album fro the project, which currently has 76 photos, with more on the way.
They’re just raw material for the project, not the final product. What’s the final product? Don’t know. We’re not there yet.
Finally, the Shakespeare passages by themselves:
Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety: other women cloy
The appetites they feed: but she makes hungry
Where most she satisfies; for vilest things
Become themselves in her: that the holy priests
Bless her when she is riggish.
Antony and Cleopatra, Act 2, Scene 2
His legs bestrid the ocean: his rear'd arm
Crested the world: his voice was propertied
As all the tuned spheres, and that to friends;
But when he meant to quail and shake the orb,
He was as rattling thunder. For his bounty,
There was no winter in't; an autumn 'twas
That grew the more by reaping: his delights
Were dolphin-like; they show'd his back above
The element they lived in: in his livery
Walk'd crowns and crownets; realms and islands were
As plates dropp'd from his pocket.
Antony and Cleopatra, Act 5, Scene 2