High Heel Project

just one of those things #002 – High Heel Project 2022 special edition, 2022 ©Mari Katayama

—I don’t want high heels to be something special, but simply a choice, important only to you.

The “High Heels Project” started in 2011 as a project in which Mari Katayama, an artist who lives with an artificial leg, created artificial legs that allow her to wear high heels, walk the streets, and perform on stage. Ten years have passed since the start of the project, and the second phase of the project, which will start in earnest in 2022, will move into the next phase, connecting with various other people and moving toward the “freedom to embrace ideals” for all people. When Katayama was a singer at a jazz bar during her college days, one day a customer made a remark to her, “A woman who doesn’t wear high heels is not a woman. In the course of the first project, which began out of frustration, Katayama was confronted with the current state of social welfare in Japan, where there are very few options provided by “public assistance. Wearing high heels with artificial legs is connected to the issue of people’s “freedom of choice. Back in 2011, the goal was to get to the point where people could wear high heels by adjusting ready-made parts and shoes and stand on the stage by themselves. In this second project, while developing parts and shoes, we will have the opportunity to question the freedom of choice, welfare, and the possibility of the body itself, which should be given to all people, through research with experts involved in the project,
people with similar disabilities, and researchers related to disabilities and the body. This time, Italian luxury shoe brand Sergio Rossi will participate in this project and produce high-heeled shoes. Katayama’s creative activities, which began with the creation of objects, and the skilled “handiwork” of the brand’s dedicated craftsmen in the entire manufacturing process of a pair of shoes, were connected, and Katayama resonated with the philosophy of Sergio Rossi, the founder of the brand, that “shoes are an extension of a woman’s legs. The decision was made.

How do we choose to dress ourselves?

It is a social issue common to all people. The “#KuToo” movement, which protested against the forced wearing of pumps by women in the business world, seems to be an activity with the same awareness of the issue as this project (even if the direction of the shoes they are wearing is the exact opposite). As it has become easier for individuals to communicate through social networking services (SNS), not only
the way we dress, but also the way we behave in the community to which we belong and even our past actions are becoming socialized. In such a situation, I feel that there are many people who have to play the role of “the self required by society” or who have no choice but to give up acting freely to fit the “image required by society. I hope that the High Heels Project will help individuals who are trapped in the confines of society and themselves to be able to forgive themselves. The framework of “welfare” and the position of the “concerned party” as a prosthetic leg user can sometimes be an obstacle to speaking out and spreading the word. I feel that it is very difficult today, when people are often judged by words and numbers, to take on the responsibility of being involved with the people themselves and to approach the unknown world. In such a time, the appearance of Sergio Rossi, who is willing to face, accept, and run with us in a friendly and serious manner, was a great opportunity for us to restart the High Heels Project. When I first touched Sergio Rossi’s high heels, I thought, “I want these shoes even if I can’t wear them. This is a big difference from the high heel project 10 years ago, when I thought, “I don’t care what kind of high heels I can wear. I thought that I could finally feel the joy and happiness of choice. I would like to walk carefully so that I can grow the happiness of having choices widely and widely.

Mari Katayama

[“High Heel Project”: Special Edition Artworks Now Available For Pre-Order.]

Mari Katayama Studio has decided to sell a special edition of artworks exclusive to the “High Heel Project”. One of the project’s goals is to provide a new perspective to the young people who will lead our societies in the future, and after the completion of the high heels, Katayama will visit educational institutions around Japan to give lectures on diversity. The proceeds from the special edition’s sales will be used to fund the project’s administrative costs and other activities.

For pre-orders, please contact Naka at Mari Katayama Studio studio@marikatayama.com.


1 July 2022 VOGUE CHANGE

(Only available in Japanese)

24 June 2022 VOGUE CHANGE
アーティスト片山真理とセルジオ ロッシがコラボレーション! 義足のためのハイヒールを履いて歩くことの意味。
【片山真理のハイヒール・プロジェクト Vol.2】

(Only available in Japanese)

24 March 2022 HILLS LIFE DAILY
High Heel Project Restarts アーティスト片山真理が思い描く選択の自由——義足で履く「ハイヒール・プロジェクト」再始動

(Only available in Japanese)

16 Feburuary 2022 VOGUE CHANGE
【片山真理のハイヒール・プロジェクト Vol.1】

(Only available in Japanese)

[high heel project instagram]