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The footweirdy expression – introducing Elizaveta Litovka’s footwear sculptures

«There are no boring or uninspiring things» says the artist – «Nothing is better than flowers. They are the unit of all that is beautiful, that’s why it’s called flowierdy»

Elizaveta Litovka artist

Best known for her photography, which often features individual portraits in cinematic settings, the 29 year-old Ukrainian artist Elizaveta Litovka, sharing her thoughts on color and shapes along with the weird world of flowers we live in, is now experiencing old things anew. Elizaveta Litovka tried to exhibit her aesthetic responses to reality painting and walking without glasses, in order to introject and experience the artistic world of Impressionism. Sharing their method Litovka aims at showing not an elusive reality but something more eternal – the impression: she believes that lights, colors, the size of the spot and its effect on the perceived space affect photography or painting in the same way. 

According to the artist, her pictures came after a long crisis in creativity, images thought to be the most suitable form of interaction with the viewer, a personal space where experiencing art, becoming familiar with the elusive and fleeting moment of photography. Considered to be the primary resource in taking pictures, Elizaveta Litovka defined the inspiration as a state, a condition mirroring not the surrounding reality but what is inside herself. Inspiration for the Ukrainian artist comes along with the power of the imagination, which is for the photographer above function: «The world can be created in any way. And any world is imaginary. What matters is what you see and feel, not what you know. This is something we understand well in childhood and later we forget it». While displaying her pictures obscuring her face, Litovka never writes captions, bent on distilling the essence of photographs into visual art; in many of her portrait works the faces are not clearly visible so that: «Without face the picture becomes you or me or whatever you want it to be». Working upon the definitions of what footwear can be, Elizaveta Litovka studies the performative nature of dressing, in order to reconsider and subvert the common idea of shoes; with recycling and reuse at the core of several practices, familiar objects are suggested to create wearable works of art. 

Elizaveta Litovka’s footwear sculptures

Litovkva’s footwear series, comprising assemblages formed around the feet are shared on her social accounts under the name of floweirdy: «There are no boring or uninspiring things» says the artist – «There is nothing better than flowers. They are the unit of all that is beautiful, that’s why it’s called flowierdy. And it’s beautiful that many things in this world are flowers, even cabbage or people; and even things like limited time and space can be inspiring, because what is missing becomes more precious». Elizaveta Litovka’s footwear sculptures are formed from a repertoire of materials including Lego, plants and rose petals; for the artist anything is a shoe, which can be captured through her lenses: «I don’t have any special technique, I see a right angle, a posture, a material that catches my eyes» says the artist, «My photography is the product of capturing those moments». Footwear concept and nail design are grouped under the title of footweirdy, conceived to break the bond between the object and its application, letting the harmony of the heel line emerge: the person is the flower, the shoe is the vase. The first shoes she ever built up can be traced back to few years ago during what she called a ‘motherhood crisis’: while she was walking around picking up broken Kinder toys all over her house, she decided to cover her stiletto shoe, and it turned out to be an artwork, the result of the inner struggle between the woman and the artist.  

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Elizaveta Litovka, The Earth X K-Way

Elizaveta Litovka’s artworks

Using second-hand shoes as the basis of her artworks, Elizaveta Litovka moved from the idea that even garbage can be a resource for creating new things, that shoes can be reassembled into new forms for an unlimited number of times. «In my art I decorate my foot, maybe because I like or I don’t like it so much that I have to embellish it – shoes carry you into any world and help you runaway from it» explains the photographer, whose artworks are created out of any items. Her pictures aim at displaying the harmony with the object, conceived by the Ukrainian artist both the foundation and the vehicle: the cap of a red bell pepper is transformed into a heel, while the rest of the vegetable is the toe box, or a neon green dust mop is used as a shoe. Some of her pictures mirror different methods applied for a more natural aesthetic: Litovka coated kitten heels in dried flowers, using a similar technique with a yellow rubber glove, tying the fingers around her ankle to generate a sense of movement and a bit of flare. Trying to listen to the objects from which she creates her shoes, Litovka’s artworks include among others a banana peel, post-it notes, scale model dinosaurs, a cake frosting shoe where the artist scattered the top of her foot in white icing, screwing it with sprinkles. The expansion over the idea of wearable art follows, for the artist, the same path of decorating her toenails with unfamiliar items: she covered them in strawberry slices, rose petals, bees and doll shoes. 

Defined as a great opportunity to exhibit her works in a period where art galleries are closed, Litovka published on her social media during the quarantine period in March a toilet paper roll wrapped around the foot, explaining the basic concept behind the shot: «Giving up is not an option, not even in difficult times. We could find our strength in uncertainty, trying to remember how creativity and humorism can be helpful». Creativity for Litovka currently comes from ordinary life through the streets in Ukraine, where she focuses on distancing herself from what is going on around her, capturing the characters integrated into the surrounding environment on an ordinary day. Being an artist and a photographer allows Elizaveta Litovka to look for any source of inspiration around her, while getting influenced by those artists, writers and photographers who share the commonality of meaning and intent behind their works, conceived to be more significant to her rather than the artistic style. Among them Litovka chose writer and director Martin McDonagh as the man whose works she wants to embrace, as both showed how different characters could create themselves: «I let the story happen around them. I don’t try to impose a story on the characters but to do it the other way around» says McDonagh. Interested in conveying what she feels, sees and experiences, Litovka’s idea of footwear verges on environmental direction both in the materials and meanings involved: «It’s easier than it looks — to reuse things or to be conscious. We should at least try to. That’s what I’m trying to say in my art» explains the artist. She grounded her photography on a perception of reality devoid of any prejudices and simplifications inscribed in ordinary life, using the social accounts as means that let her to be heard in the industry without imposing the archetypal conception of creativity. 

Footweirdy x Yuul Yie

The Korean brand Yuul Yie – the label, first launched by Sunyuul Yie in 2010 fuses modernity of sculptural shoes with abstract and geometric shape heels, joining the worldwide footwear conversation. To celebrate ten years of Yuul Yie, Elizaveta Litovka collaborated with the Korean brand trying to mirror the footwear line, which combines cultured artistic, pictorial and architectural references with the skillful use of Italian leather: «The brand put on an exhibition. They sent me a parcel with their heels. I was as happy as a child to receive, unpacking in the sun, moving these treasures from place to place. I loved creating living shoes based on the real shoe. It was an inspiring project. I created some sculptures and a series of photographs for them» explains the photographer, «It wasn’t hard to combine my personal style with that of the brand, it just fit into their image, that’s why they came to me, they like my style». Exploring footwear is for Elizaveta Litovka a connection with reality, defining her style as the resultant on what the artist chose or gave up in the construction of her artworks; the photographer reveals what lays behind her art: «Behind my work is me, my foot, the light from my window, my way, my vision of the world. I don’t know. I’m immersed in it, so it’s hard to judge from the outside why it is identifiable». The Ukrainian photographer wasn’t looking for knowledge when she started shooting the pictures she became known for; Litovka was searching for the right mean to express her feelings, and now finding new challenges and longing to perceive the world as it is, she embraces the surrounding through her lenses, taking inspiration not just as the basis but the reward for her artworks.

IMAGE GALLERY

Ukrainian artist and photographer Elizaveta Litovka’s footwear series, comprising whimsical, and at times entirely peculiar, assemblages formed around feet, are shared as images and videos via her Instagram account @floweirdy. The ephemeral footwear sculptures Litovka makes are formed from an unending repertoire of materials, including Lego, banana peels, toilet roll, roses and even in one instance, a real jellyfish.

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