Ellen Sampson Selected Works | Leverhulme


Dance (2014) [16mm film and video]

The film ‘Dance’ and the shoes which accompany it, explore the shoe as a record of a series of movements over time. It asks how the ephemerality of gestures (the body moving through time and space) can be made permanent and material.  Taking the form of two divergent records of a single performance - a film, and the shoes worn by the dancer - it presents the worn and discarded shoe as a material manifestation of gestures performed within it. Each shoe, worn for a single performance, becomes a record of those particular gestures -  temporary, sigular and unrepeatable.


Cloth (2015) [Digital Photographs]

The marks upon the shoe are traces of the gestures performed within them, records of being in the world.  The relationship between body, footwear and memory is one in which three agents are in constant dialogue.  The body imprints its form on the shoe, leather stretching, and sole wearing away; in turn, the shoe alters the body, distorting bones and hardening skin: movement inscribes memory.  Through wear and the process of bodily imprint, footwear becomes a container for experience. The garment, in touching the skin, becomes a site where internal and external experience may meet.


Minpaku (2014) [Digital Photographs]

This series of photographs of Waragutsu – woven or knotted straw snowshoes from Hokkaido - from Minpaku Ethnographic Archive in Osaka, Japan, explore the interior of shoes; the place where the shoe and body meet. As snowshoes Waragutsu provide a protective boundary between the wearer and world, highlighting the shoe’s role as intermediary. They break down quickly; sacrificial objects designed to protect the foot and garments they cover.

In this series the act of photographing the interior of the shoe uncovers spaces and details which were difficult for the eye to perceive.  Taking photographs here is a means of looking closely; a process of uncovering the intimate and hidden parts of the shoe, making these spaces unavoidably present. The blown-up images become disorientating. It is difficult to understand these scaleless images or to locate oneself within them.


Worn (2015) [Film Projection: 23 minutes 51 seconds. Shoes: Copper, cedar, wax, leather, gold left copper leaf, silk and cotton]

A woman enters room puts on a pair of shoes and leaves, an act repeated again and again and again…

Drawing on imagery from the fairy-tale, ‘Worn’ explores the triangulated relationship between the image, the artefact and the viewer. The artefact, the ‘having-been there’ object, acts as an intermediary between the viewer and the film.  It is both ‘here-now’ with the viewer and at the same time it is ‘there-then’ within the film.  Thus the artefact serves to emphasise the distance between the filmic record and the viewer. Within the film, this distance, the unreality of the viewing experience, is again emphasised by the use of three cameras positioned around the room.


Ellen Sampson Fold (2013) [Digital Photographs, Shoes -Silk, cotton, polyester, leather, wax, gold leaf, copper leaf]

Fold explores the way that our day-to-day movements affect our shoes. Looking at how the process of putting on and wearing marks the shoes, it explores how our unconscious, everyday movements are retained in the garments we wear. These shoes break down more readily than ‘normal’ shoes and are open so that the imprints of the body are revealed.


Gestures (2013) [Video]

Film studying the gestures associated with the wearing of footwear. Research for the performance piece' Dance'.