In Sneakers

“Come on, let’s go somewhere where you don’t have to be perfect!” “Where would that be?” “Let’s go look.” This exchange takes place between two young people in Jugend ohne Gott (Youth without God), the award-winning screen adaptation of Ödön von Horváth’s novel of the same name, released in cinemas in 2017.1 The dialogue depicts the psychological pressure that young people grow up under in a culture focused on perfection. At the same time, there is the opposite: everything seems possible – a push of a button gives you access to all knowledge, and a ticket gets you to the furthest corner of the planet. Social media is raising the stakes. Influencers explain what is beautiful and good, and YouTube coaches preach being true to yourself. This is a state of limbo, a state well reflected by the shoe of our time: the sneaker. Sneakers, as they are called in modern German [and English], are flexible and light so that they lessen your impact on the ground and encourage you to take the next step. Sneakers are for limbo.

Translation Laura Liska
Image Story Filters on the Instagram social media platform are reminiscent of intoxication. The photo captures reality only to have it made unreal again. Documentation becomes a performance.

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  1. Translator’s note: The 2017 German film is the third adaptation of Hungarian writer Ödön von Horváth’s 1937 novel about how fascism was destroying the youth.

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