I can already hear the screams of “Noooo!” & “Why the hell would you do that to a pair of Concords!?” echoing on Twitter and the sneaker blogs. After all who has the nerve to cut up the most hyped and coveted and saught after shoe of 2011? (And some would say of the entire Jordan legacy!) It wasn’t an easy decision, due to the fact that I was lucky enough to get my hands on just one pair. I chose to sacrifice a prized piece of my collection. The destruction of the Concords is a sacrifice of something I value for the greater good of creating something from materials that I love. In a way it’s like working with precious metals.
Sneakerheads will need no introduction to this shoe but for those of you wondering what the fuss is about here are a few things you should know about the Concord XIs. This is said to be the greatest OG Air Jordan colorway, don’t believe me? Just ask Sneaker News and their more than 30,000 readers. Michael Jordan stunned spectators as he brought these to the court in ’95 NBA finals, a very important year indeed as Michael returned from retirement and resurrected the Chicago Bulls. And as most of Air Jordan masterpieces, the XI was designed by the legendary Tinker Hatfield. [For more info check out NiceKick’s History of the Concord XI]
There are a lot of themes at play in my work. Clear cut and dry artist statements are straight up boring and horse shit. Art isn’t about having the right answer, not mine at least. Different audiences will read these masks differently. Sneakerheads either see their favorite shoes transformed into works of art or will condemn me for my sins, how dare I destroy treasures! Some folks will focus in on the gas mask and how it represents our society at war and the sneakers as a symbol of our “horrid” consumerism. Others will see the ancient art of mask making transitioned into something very modern that explores issues of identity, social status, desire and the evolution of forms. The fact of the matter is, none of ‘em would be wrong.
The Concord XI Gas Mask has a lot to do with it’s nature as a status symbol. All different types and styles of sneakers can become status symbols in the Hip-Hop and Sneakerhead communities but the Jordan XI just might be the king of status symbols when it comes to the visual language of kicks. Honorable Mr. Hatfield’s design was originally inspired by a convertible sports car but has a tuxedo & formal wear look, a high society aesthetic and spats-esque profile carried over to this epic basketball shoe. MJ asked for a “shiny” shoe and ended up with a shoe that he was sure cats would wear with tuxedos… he was right! [Check out SOLE Collector for more from the man himself about what it was like designing the XI]
And of course a big thanks to my brother from anotha, Ak from The Havenotz, for modeling the mask and all the help with the photo shoot.