Campus art project destroyed: half of children’s shoes dumped in bins

25 Jun 2024 ,

The children’s shoes, which pro-Palestine protesters set out in a line across campus, are no longer there. Last weekend, exactly half of the shoes were tossed in the garbage.

Several pro-Palestine protesters were very surprised when they came to inspect their artwork this morning; many shoes were missing. After some snooping, the shoes were recovered in several public rubbish bins across the campus.

Shoes thrown in one of the bins. Photo: Johannes Fiebig

‘We were planning to come pick up the shoes today in any case’, says Marieke van Houte, assistant professor of Cultural Anthropology and Development Studies. Van Houte was closely involved with the art project.  ‘To our surprise, half of the shoes (231 out 461 pairs, eds.) were missing. We saw a shoe lying next to a bin; when we investigated, we found that the shoes had all been dumped in several bins.’

Silent protest

The line of shoes had been on campus for roughly 1.5 months. The artwork symbolised the many children who have died in Gaza. The line ran from the camp next to the Maria Montessori building -which has since been cleared– up to the Berchmanianum building, which houses the Executive Board. According to the protesters, Radboud University is complicit in genocide, since the university refuses to cut ties with Israeli institution that cooperate with the Israeli army.

Protesters with a wheelbarrow, used for collecting the shoes. Photo: Johannes Fiebig

The shoes remained after the camp was cleared; they were turned around, however. Additionally, signs were put up. The project founders have stated on their Instagram page that the shoes are more than just a protest. The shoes ‘are a conversation piece and provide passers-by a moment of reflection.’

Opening bins

It is unknown who got rid of the shoes. The protesters were undeterred and have fished the shoes out of the bins.

‘Apparently there are angry people destroying others’ creations for no reason’

The mood among those students gathering shoes today is mainly one of indignation. ‘Apparently there are angry people destroying others’ creations for no reason’, one of the students* remarks. ‘I’m shocked that anyone could so easily throw away something representing a child’s destroyed life.’

The line of shoes will not be returning for the foreseeable future. The protesters have gathered up the shoes and are now looking for people to ‘adopt’ them over the summer. It is their hope that participants of the Four Days’ Marches are willing to bring the shoes along as a show of support.

*The student’s name is known to the editors.

Translated by Jasper Pesch

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