Thanks Eric for the thoughtful response regarding McGee’s continuing contributions to the art world. I completely understand and appreciate the importance art (of all kinds) plays in within society. And I do agree that the Fong shoe, as a point of aggrevation for Asians, is decidedly less of a priority than are other issues at hand. However, I think it’s important to acknowledge that the Fong image is void of any artistic context when placed on the shoe — and that’s my “beef” with this one. In my world, context is everything and I believe Adidas (and HUF) has been remiss in not shedding more light on McGee’s association to the shoe. There is no mention of McGee in Adidas’s press materials, nor in any marketing or point-of-purchase materials. It was THEIR choice to put the image into the marketplace as a stand-alone icon — perhaps they felt McGee’s work was more recognizable? I think the most telling comment that has been made on the matter so far has been from the owner of HUF who said (and i’m paraphrasing): “People should educate themselves before they complain.”…uh, isn’t that the point? Isn’t he actually acknowledging that if you’re not familiar with McGee’s subversive use of the image then yeah, of course you’d be offended. I know of contemporary artists who have used Nazi icons as subversive elements within their artwork, yet remove the context of art from those icons and…? I’m not going to lose sleep over this but I do think it’s worth pointing out. Adidas, I don’t think, is displaying racist attitudes, but I do believe they have at the very least been irresponsible and naive.
Hi there anonymous, thanks for writing. I think doing a shoe with Barry McGee makes the shoe more recognizable, but I do believe that Huf worked with Barry because it’s an honor. It’s one of the reasons why we worked with Barry. It’s rare for there to be Ray Fong or Barry McGee products, so this is out of the norm. I’m not sure if I read Huf’s comments that way. I think he’s saying something like, it’s art and there’s no problem with it. I could be wrong though! You do raise a point. I still think that it being on a shoe is fine. The press materials will be minimal for an artist limited edition run shoe. Marketing for this kind of stuff is appealing to that small percent who’ll understand that shoe.
Can it offend? Of course, and much lesser problems offend more, and much larger problems offend much less.