Magnetische schoenen [Magnetic Shoes]



Object, 34 x 28.5 x 23 cm.
Materials: leather boots, electric wires, switches

Collection: Courtesy The Deweer Collection, Otegem (Inv. no. WV2).

The Magnetic Shoes represent a key work from Panamarenko's early period.  They were requisites for a happening that took place at the KVS theatre in Brussels in 1967.  Later that year, the happening was repeated on the Flemish television program 'Echo'.  The shoes themselves - according to Panamarenko they were military boots from the former East Block - came from his mother's shoe store ('Goliatje') in Antwerp's Offerandestraat.

Those shoes were really strong: mock-leather on the outside, and with wooden plugs on the sole!  Something indicative of those old Iron Curtain techniques...

In those days Panamarenko would frequent the 'Stock Americain' (army surplus store), where on sale was all manner of American military gear at cheap prices.  He purchased a number of electric motors there, took them apart, and removed the copper stator coils.  He would weld the coils' magnets to a rod and then trapped an electrical charge.  The result was amazing!  If you then touched a piece of metal to it, you couldn’t get it off no matter how hard you pulled!  In a green rucksack (where military personnel would keep their walkie-talkies) are the lead batteries to provide the current.  By alternatingly turning the current in the magnets on and off, I could hang upside down from a ceiling and walk around.  I thought: well, that's a start... a little bit like flying...

(source: Hans Willemse and Paul Morrens, in: 'Copyright Panamarenko', 2005)

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