YOU ARE if you are female and you've got some crazy passion about your sneaks! You might have tons of sneakers or only a few favorites. You might obsess about keeping them perfectly clean, lacing them just so, or having what nobody else's got. If your sneakers come first, this could be you… check it out…
Sunday, April 8, 2012
The Invisible Women Project has landed - "New York, New York !"
SO I LANDED !!!
That’s right, The Invisible Women Project is here!
Even Feeway was surprised they let me through customs but as I am Female Sneaker Fiend certified I guess they gave me a pass! With my feet finally on American soil the magnitude of this project started to become real to me. Months of planning, hundreds of tweets and emails, Skype conversations, early morning radio interviews, hours of sitting in front of google calendar and even more hours in the library laying down theory for my dissertation equated to me finally being here!! The preparation for this trip was crucial. Due to a very large pond separating me from you all, I had to really concentrate on planning the tour schedule and arranging interviews. So much of my research rests on the voices of you out there and I was determined to meet as many of you as possible. The responses from people wanting to be involved was truly overwhelming! People from New York, Chicago, Houston, Seattle, Ohio, Maine and Las Vegas all got in contact. I had to rearrange the original tour schedule – extending time in certain places and adding new cities to accommodate the growing interest.
For this project to first start as a “quirky” little idea in my head way back when I was thinking about how to build on my existing body of work on sneaker culture and deciding to to a Masters at my home university to holding my first interviews has blown me away. I’m reminded of the B.I.G lyric – “you never thought that Hip Hop would take it this far” but my own versions would be “I never thought sneaker culture would bring me this far.” Truthfully, an object that most people only understand on the functional level and that I know is the extension of a lifestyle has brought me to America. Crazy, amazing, cool !!
This tour / project / research trip / invasion is all about me highlight female participation within this subculture to put a spotlight on their “invisible” status and the marginalized position they participate in this culture from but also to contribute to the developing academic studies around Hip Hop Culture and Gender and Subcultures. I really feel like there is a need for “less conventional” academic work and for me to be able to bridge a passion of mine to my studies. The fact that everyone has been so receptive, eager excited to take part in my work and meet me makes me slightly more nervous but most of all excited for all that could happen from this!
This tour / project / research trip / invasion is all about me highlight female participation within this subculture to put a spotlight on their “invisible” status and the marginalized position they participate in this culture from but also to contribute to the developing academic studies around Hip Hop Culture and Gender and Subcultures. I really feel like there is a need for “less conventional” academic work and for me to be able to bridge a passion of mine to my studies. The fact that everyone has been so receptive, eager excited to take part in my work and meet me makes me slightly more nervous but most of all excited for all that could happen from this! BUT…. Even before I touched down though there was some “business” I had to take care of by way of packing… Those who truly know me, understand how much I loathe packing! There’s never going to be a suitcase that’s perfect for me and I’m never going to be able to pack light! More so, I’m never going to be able to choose what kicks to bring… Packing for me is like a game of mix and match – I place each sneaker on top of a possible outfit to make sure that there is a NEED for it to be in my suitcase and it warrants being brought on a trip. I did feel a little bit of pressure as I decided what to bring as with my project being about female sneaker heads I felt the extra need to prove that I belonged in this subculture. However, I buy what I like… and what I own fits a purpose in my life. With some pairs that I possess I am trying to “stunt” but for the most part I’m trying to be comfortable and show my appreciation for this culture. The “dilemma” of the sneaker head is something I’m sure everyone can relate to but what I was reminded about through the conversations I’ve had so far … it’s about wearing what you like! With that said, I lined all possible candidates up against the wall and began to eliminate the unsuccessful ones … some of the below made the trip across the pond with me, when you meet me you’ll see!
The first stop on my “American Invasion” as appropriately named by Sean from Obsessive Sneaker Disorder was New York City! It’s been a while since I was in NYC and I was excited to be back to see all my family and friends plus meet all the female sneaker fiends and catch up on some true authentic Soul food! I been explaining this a lot since I’ve been in the States as when people see how excited I am from being presented with a plate of pancakes or basket of cornbread – it’s not in “British culture” we don’t eat grits, pancakes and lucky charms like you do – so it really is a WOW moment for me every time a waitress serves me with a fresh stack! Back home I eat cereal and toast… and if I go to a cafe for breakfast I’m more than likely to order a Full English (toast, baked beans, sausages, eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms) rather than some pancakes with a side of home fries and rashes of bacon. My friends back home have been developing a serious case of “food envy” with the numerous updates on Facebook of all the delghts I’ve been tucking into while I’ve been here. However, if you knew the size of portions I was coming from you would “pig out” too! My thing is pancakes I love them!! I’m on a personal mission to find the best spot for breakfast in America – i’ll keep you posted on how I’m doing!
My first week in New York was really a chance to get reacclimatized to the city, prepare for my interviews and catch up with friends. On one of my off days I was able to head up to the Jewish Museum and see a Kehinde Wiley exhibit entitled World Stage Israel. This guys work is amazing! He documents people in the African diaspora worldwide he went to israel to capture Ethiopian Jews, native born Jews and Arab Israelis. Honestly if you’re in New York and can get to this show GO!
On Saturday 31st I was able to attend the Show and Prove Conference at New York University. The entire conference was dedicated to Hip Hop Studies and people who had managed to build a bridge between their passion for a subculture into the classroom – you can already tell why I was interested to be there! It equally amazes and delights me to listen and learn about Hip Hop studies and the different angles people are pursuing in their very original work.
I was drawn to the series of talks that dealt with women performing subjectivity. I heard a great talk from PHd candidate Jessica Pabón, whose paper was entitled – “Spitting like a Woman”: Gender Performance in the Art of Beatboxing.” Her work was amazing in highlighting the “invisible women” within the art of beatboxing and really honed in on gender performativity, female agency and how they maintain the authenticity of the art. What was really amazing was when the speakers used the term “invisible women.”
That same night the “debaucherous hostess” the one and only Feeway730 hit me up and invited me to kick it with the crew. Shout out to Allen who helped an English kid make their way from Union St Station all the way to Bedford Ave and the amazing little spot known as Dee & Ricky’s. The amazing Jae was making sure I was kept full with the delights she kept pulling of the menu such as the Grits Creme Brûlée – I know, it’s not meant to work but it was buttery and sugary sweetness! Oh and also the jerk chicken nuggets – straight fire alongside the mac and cheese balls!
It was great for me to be around great people and finally meet people face to face and talk to them for more than 140 characters! That night we didn’t even talk about kicks, it was really just friends hanging out which made me feel right at home!
My time in New York was great and I’m looking forward to returning again towards the end of my trip! The next stop 0n the tour was Philadelphia, which would be a homecoming for me as I previously studied there for a year back in 2009.
Interviews lined up, friends waiting, city calling – time to go!