By Jennifer Hopper
VIC | 24.01.2007
If Jazz Bonifaccio had saved his money he could have had a deposit on a house by now, a new car or even travelled the world several times over. Instead he chose to spend his money on sneakers. Lots of sneakers. Jazz own over 450 pairs of one off, customised and classic sneakers. But he’s not alone, in fact he’s part of a very well heeled group of sneaker obsessives. And it’s collections such as his, and other sneaker freakers, that have helped to transform the NGV International into a locker room stacked to bursting for Sneakers: classics to customs.
Jazz himself treats his treads with all the care and consideration of a curator. He says “I probably wear 30% (of my collection), most of them I consider rare so they just stay in the box. I actually bought those baby wipes - the bum wipes, I use them to clean my sneakers. Every now and then I get them out of the box and just make sure they’re not mouldy or anything. Even like the KFC refresher towels. I use them as well to clean my sneakers”. And when he isn’t cleaning them, he’s got them sealed stored to prevent his sneakers from getting damaged by the environment. “I buy a lot of clear plastic and wrap (the sneakers) up twice or three times, just so air doesn’t get in,” he says. And it’s care well taken when you're serious about collecting shoes that can crack and discolour over time. Some shoes that have never been worn can literally split and crumble the moment an eager collector’s foot goes to take a step.
Sneakers: classics to customs turns back the clock to some of the earliest examples of the running shoe. From the Dunlop Volley’s of the 1950s to the future of Nike’s Air Force 1, it’s a timeline of trends and technology.
Paola DiTrocchio is assistant curator of the exhibition and for her the collection shows just how far the sneaker has come from its humble beginnings as a thin soled beige walkabout to the pumped up, laser etched and chunky fashion footwear of today. “Sneakers are really exciting in terms of fashion and design at the moment. There’s just so much happening. There are new releases all the time, collaborations with great artists and also a lot of sneakers that reference previous artwork and previous artists. So it’s really a dynamic area of fashion at the moment”.
Sneakers: classics to customs runs until 8th July 2007 at National Gallery Victoria International.
For more info go to www.ngv.vic.gov.au/sneakers
The J Arts Crew is a joint initiative of the Australia Council, the Australian Government's arts funding body, and triple j.