Put yourself in my shoes

Publish date 26-03-2022

by Chiara Vitali

At the end of September a large box of shoes appeared in Milan. On one of its walls it says: «Don't judge a man until he walks two moons in his moccasins». Inside there are 21 pairs of shoes and each belongs to a person who wanted to donate his story to the project. Anyone can enter the box, put on someone else's shoes and, while he walks, listen to his voice with headphones. The project is called Put yourself in my shoes and with 21 podcasts it brings together stories that often feel distant. Like that of Paolino, who at 18 reads the word "irrecoverable" on his medical records for the damage that heroin has done to his body. For a long time he goes in and out of prison, until the final decision: to put the syringes in a drawer and not touch them anymore. Viktoria's shoes, on the other hand, tell of a journey with no return from Ukraine to Italy and the difficult search for a job. Today she is her family assistant and enters the most personal sphere of the people who follow and who totally rely on her. And so on, we listen to the stories of Manlio, Shaza, Valentina, Mona, Sofy. Out of the box, on some post-its, many have told their impressions after the experience. “It's as if Dianne and I are already a bit of a friend. I would like to hug her »someone writes. "I have listened to and experienced the immense love that a mother can have for her child" marks someone else. The work was promoted in Italy by the Empathy Foundation and reproduces the work of the English artist Clare Patey (director of the English Empathy Museum ). The installation in Milan has been completed, but other similar initiatives will be proposed in the future. "There are those who can identify with the story they hear and the effort that is told" explains Petra Mazzetti, president of the Empatia Foundation. And a question arises: "How much better would it be if all my effort did the others understand and I understood theirs more? ».

Chiara Vitali
NP December 2021

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