Argentinian artist Werthein set up a trainer brand, Brinco (‘jump’ in Spanish) in 2005. She distributed the trainers free of charge to people attempting to cross the border illegally in Tijuana, Mexico. At the same time, just over the border in the US city of San Diego, she sold the shoes as ‘limited edition’ art objects for over $200 a pair. Werthein donated part of the money she raised to a Tijuana shelter helping migrants in need.
The trainer’s design includes eagle motifs inspired by American and Mexican national symbols, and an image of Saint Toribio Romo, the patron saint of Mexican migrants. The shoes also feature a torch, a compass and pockets to hide money and medicine. Printed on a removable insole is a map of the border area around Tijuana.
Werthein had the Brinco trainers produced cheaply in China. Many global companies manufacture products in countries where labour is cheap and often poorly regulated. The artist hopes to draw attention to how easily goods move between countries, compared with the strict regulations around the movement of people. The same governments that allow the import of cheap goods from overseas often strictly control, and actively discourage, migrants from entering the country in search of better living conditions.
The display includes responses to the project, such as media reports, online reactions and threatening messages received by the artist.
Curated by Valentina Ravaglia