Besides no travel, one of my biggest banes during the pandemic was the absence of the arts in Singapore. Plays, musicals, concerts and exhibitions could not see the light of day. Thankfully, it's different now. With the likes of international acts and local activities such as Disney’s Frozen The Hit Broadway Musical, 29 Rooms, Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, Fever Up Candlelight performances, Artbox, Cinewav Seaside Cinema and more, there’s one more exciting exhibition to look out for – Sneakertopia: Step into Street Culture that opened its doors at the ArtScience Museum on 26 February.
Read: Review: Disney Frozen Musical has something for everyone – Magic, sets, costumes, music and more
Organised by SPACElogic in collaboration with ArtScience Museum, Sneakertopia is the world’s first art and sneaker exhibit and is a true sneakerhead fantasy come true. Emmy award-winning producer, Steve Harris, joined hands with Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur Steve Brown, bringing their passion towards sneakers and sneaker culture to Singapore, the first stop in Asia. Beyond a mere showcase of limited edition sneakers, Sneakertopia incorporates not just pop culture but crosses into areas such as sports and the arts. Here are the top five things to know about the exhibition.
The culture of the street is about living bravely, making bold choices, pushing boundaries and not being afraid to fail.Honor Harger, Vice President of ArtScience Museum and Attractions at Marina Bay Sands
No. 1: See Virgil Abloh, JJ Lin, Mr Sabotage's designs and unique collection in person
There are no prizes for guessing why you clicked on this article – You are a sneakerhead, and you love sneakers and probably own one too many. According to Emmy award-winning producer and co-founder of Sneakertopia, Los Angeles, Steve Harris, the last count for his sneaker collection was 80, and he bought four pairs over the weekend. If you, like Harris, love sneakers for collection, display or daily wear, Sneakertopia is definitely for you.
The exhibition showcases 100 limited-edition sneakers, including unique sneakers and paraphernalia owned by celebrities such as pop star JJ Lin, sneaker customiser Mr Sabotage, Founder and CEO of Limited Edt Mandeep Chopra, on top designer Virgil Abloh’s sneaker creations, amongst others.
No. 2: Sneakertopia’s immersive zones delve deep into sneaker culture
The role sneakers play in defining street and pop culture is undeniable. Be it pop music, hip hop, technology, sports or fashion; sneaker culture has been driven by artists, athletes and celebrities celebrating self-expressionism, creativity and innovation.
The exhibition comprises ten exploratory zones, with 70 murals, installations, designs, DJ mixtapes and original artworks by 13 renowned U.S. creatives, including McFlyy, Michael Murphy, Mimi Yoon, Tommii Lim, and smoluk, as well as 17 Singaporean and locally-based creatives and contributors. The 10 zones are as follows:
1. The Entrance
2. DIY Expression Zone
3. Giant Shoe
4. The Street
5. The Playground
6. The Backlot
7. The art + Sole Gallery
8. The Frugal Room
9. The Dream Room
10. The Activity Room
No. 3: So many instagrammable artworks, immersive zones and larger-than-life exhibits
If you are looking to have a good time at the museum with immersive elements, Sneakertopia will ply you with loads of instagrammable subjects. Besides a painting by Banksy and Yayoi Kusama, here are some other highlights:
The Frugal room. A parody of the Supreme brand, this green room is dripping money. It is a tongue-in-cheek representation of the working class versus the upper class. It comes with ironic elements such as dollar bills dropping from the ceiling, bathtubs, sinks and toilet bowls filled with money – making it a perfectly fabulous backdrop for, you guessed it, your social media accounts!
Steve Harris’ Giant Skateboard, and The Dream Closet, both in 2019, are two installations that will look amazing in pictures.
Smoluk’s The Super Large Superstar, 2023, is the French artist's clever use of trash to create her audacious installation. Amassing waste from the streets and her travels, the artist hopes that the giant shoe can lead audiences to reflect on our impact on Mother Earth.
Mimi Yoon’s Give A Girl The Right Shoes And She Can Conquer The World, 2019 is another worthy installation to check out. LA-based Korean Mimi Yoon often uses her artwork to make social statements. In this painting of famous women rocking various sneakers as symbols of self-expression and identities, Yoon managed to highlight the femininity of her subjects and simultaneously bring out their strengths.
Air Jordan 1, made up of expertly cut pieces and suspended in mid-air to mimic the iconic slam-dunk action of legendary Michael Jordan in 3D, is an artwork that must be seen in person to appreciate.
No. 4: Hailing from Los Angeles, Sneakertopia at ArtScience Museum is Asia’s premiere
Supposed to kickstart its international tour in Korea in 2020, the exhibition was waylaid by the worldwide pandemic. However, the stalemate during the pandemic proved to work for the organisers, who had more time to relook the line-up. The results are evident: each zone has its local touchpoint – Something Ross Leo, Co-Founder and Executive Director of SL Experiences, admits is no easy feat.
No. 5: Singapore artists and creatives get a spotlight
Our little red dot is chock-full of creatives if we only give them a showcase, and Sneakertopia is one such venue. Each zone has a local component to it and provides 16 Singaporean and locally-based creatives and contributors with an opportunity to shine in their own right. So whether it be a reimagination or reinterpretation of an existing artwork, graffiti, parody, think-out-of-the-box installations or immersive painting, you are in for a visual and creativity treat at Sneakertopia.
With so many fabulous and unique local artworks at the exhibition, it would be hard-pressed to pinpoint one or two artwork to watch out for. Special shoutout to Josiah Chua’s Extra Value Meal, 2023 – a reiteration of McDonald’s BTS Value Meal given a new lease of life into a pair of BTS shoes. Also, don't miss his Dream 777, 2023 installation, which cleverly used discarded materials from Nike and an old car fender. No mean feat for a fashion designer who melds art and fashion seamlessly.