New doc explores the mystery behind shoes dangling on power lines

The 14-minute film polls people from all over the world, and finds there isn't just one explanation for the phenomenon.

Film still of woodcut sneakers in Bushwick

Film still of woodcut sneakers in Bushwick Courtesy

New York is rife with unsolved mysteries, like why the F train never runs on time or how to get your neighbors to keep their bedbugs to themselves. But one of the most baffling sights in the city is a pair of shoes strung over power lines: Do they mark the site of a drug deal? A meet-up spot? Or just gym class gone wrong? One filmmaker sought out the answer in his new short documentary, The Mystery of Flying Kicks; and it looks like there might not be a solid solution, after all.

To attempt to find an answer, director Matthew Bate turned to crowdsourced information, soliciting explanations from all over the world via a promoted phone number. Lots of people called in with their version of the meaning behind the shoes, and explanations ranged in everything from marking gang territory to virginity loss to bullying to tossing beat-up shoes to just "total bullshit."

Dangling shoes have become so ubiquitous at this point that they've even turned into art. Brooklyn street artist Ad of Skewville fame, who was featured in the film, has been tossing woodcuts with silkscreened images of shoes onto power lines all over the world. "In the beginning," he explains in the film, "people would clap. It's almost like performance art."

For more tossed-shoe explanations, check out the 14-minute documentary below, and see if any meanings stick with you.

[h/t Fast Company]

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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)

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