My name is Elena Crippa, I am Curator of Modern and Contemporary British Art at Tate Britain
This is Alexis Hunter, Approach to Fear XIII, Pain, Destruction of Cause from 1977. This belongs to a group of works that Hunter made with the same title, Approach to Fear, and different subtitles. The piece is made of eight photographs in two rows of four and each photograph depicts a female shoe and a hand holding the shoe by the heel.
The shoe is set on fire and we see the progression of the burning of the shoe up until the point the flames have been consumed, the top part of the shoe is completely, destroyed and we see the traces of the black burnt material.
In this work Hunter was explicitly referring to advertisement techniques whereby you would often see a hand holding a desirable product. There is a contrast between the polished nails of this hand and the bracelet and this very aggressive act of destruction, the burning of this object. This artwork clearly relates to Hunter’s feminist position and critique of the objectification of the female body and the role of female individuals in society and, of course, also a female artist.
One can think that she chose particularly these type of shoes because it seems to stand for a particular time of glamorous woman embodying the type of woman that is portrayed in the mass media and particularly in television, a sort of starlet that offers herself for public consumption.