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Sneakers with a map on the inside plus a compass attached to outside

Judi Werthein
Brinco, 2005
mixed media
Purchased by DePauw University

Judi Werthein is a contemporary Argentinian artist whose artwork focuses on interpersonal and collective relationships. In 2005, she stirred international controversy with the launch of her sneaker brand, Brinco (“Jump” in Spanish). The shoes are designed to help Latinx migrants cross the border from Mexico into the United States. The removable soles are printed with a map of Tijuana, Mexico. A miniature working compass dangles from the laces and small pockets for money are hidden in the design of the shoe. Werthein distributed the shoes to deported migrants in Tijuana and hopeful migrants along the borderline. On the U.S. side of the border, she sold her shoes as limited-edition art objects for over $200 a pair in a high-end sneaker shop in downtown San Diego. The proceeds were donated to Mexican organizations providing support and aid to deported migrants. 

She had the shoes produced in China to draw attention to the easy movement of consumer goods in contrast with strict laws against the movement of people. The countries that support movement of cheap goods produced in countries under poor labor conditions are often the same countries regulating and discouraging the migration of people searching for better working and living conditions. 

Judi Werthein talking about Brinco 

Brinco sneakers in action