Photo courtesy of John Margaritis
Ironic, isn’t it? How every creative creates art in solitude, yet, shares their creations with the world.
As I walk into the VLONE Pop Up during Art Basel weekend in Wynwood Art District in Miami, I stand in awe, marveling at the Water Box installation that takes up most of the space. Created by New York artist John Margaritis, a total of five water boxes are carefully spaced out in the room, standing tall like five pillars, and containing white basketballs floating within. The center water box also displays the Nike x VLONE sneaker collaboration, and on the wall above, the VLONE motto, “Every Living Creative Dies Alone” can be seen. Though the space is fairly large, it only contains two racks of clothing which are placed on either side of the installation, suggesting that Bari’s goal is to direct the initial attention towards the art piece.
With pieces like the Jail Jacket and the name of the brand itself, we are all aware that the main thematic component of VLONE is solitude, aloneness, being separate and isolated from others, so it is safe to suggest that the installation piece serves as a representation of these solitary and confined states. Though it just seems like basketballs floating in solitude, this installation actually merges the worlds of street fashion and sports with art, literally confining VLONE, Nike and basketballs within the art installation itself. With the basketballs and the Nike x VLONE sneaker collab being confined within the water boxes, Margaritis and A$AP Bari are literally submerging and blending these very separate worlds together.
Another interesting factor of this installation is the use of water, especially considering the bold decision to submerge the sneakers within the water, something uncommon and not ideal when it comes to apparel. Throughout art, water serves as a symbol of the consciousness, and with VLONE being a brand concerned with the artistic consciousness, the use of water makes sense. When one thinks of Nike, one immediately thinks of basketball. This is because Nike is so heavily submerged in basketball culture, it has been permanently branded in our collective consciousness – we cannot think of one without the other. With this in mind, the installation then becomes not only a statement about confinement and solitude, but about Bari’s desire to have VLONE become an immersed and permanent brand in street culture as well.
Though a brand that embraces solitude and singularity, with the Water Box installation, VLONE demonstrates itself as a collective lifestyle which acknowledges the significance in bringing separate worlds together and merging them to create one dynamic work of art. With orange being the color that symbolizes creativity, and the primary color of A$AP Bari’s VLONE brand, having the basketballs painted white instead of their usual orange offers a great deal of symbolism for this brand. Having a collaboration with Nike is a huge deal in A$AP Bari’s career as a creative and a designer, and as white represents a new successful beginning, this suggests that the Nike collab is an entirely new chapter for VLONE – one that aims to break barriers and blend the worlds of fashion, sports and art together. Art Basel was a great place for this statement to be made.