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The White Dunk Exhibit

The Time When The Dunk Was Repurposed As A Canvas for Experimental Visual Art

Editorials

Melanie Kwok
February 16, 2022

The Dunk is now more popular than ever as evident by how crazy the market value for older dunks has become. But keeping aside the hype that celebrities have generated (and the ever so absurd Travis Scott effect), the Dunk is a shoe that has always been about one theme - creative storytelling. On this episode of dunk history, we examine a very interesting event in the popular sneaker silhouette’s history, which has given us some iconic colorways such as the Pigeon and Paris Dunks.

via theface, various
via theface, various

The Dunk is now more popular than ever as evident by how crazy the market value for older dunks has become. But keeping aside the hype that celebrities have generated (and the ever so absurd Travis Scott effect), the Dunk is a shoe that has always been about one theme - creative storytelling. On this episode of dunk history, we examine a very interesting event in the popular sneaker silhouette’s history, which has given us some iconic colorways such as the Pigeon and Paris Dunks.

The White Dunk exhibition was about bringing talented artists (as selected by then C.E.O Mark Parker) together to create contemporary art based off the materials and stylings of a plain White Nike SB Dunk. The pop-up building for the exhibition was a literal Silver Box Era shoebox, which further added to its mystique. Landing initially in Japan, this exhibit featured the works of 25 Japanese artists who were influential in the contemporary art space at the time

via Sartoria Comunicazione
via Sartoria Comunicazione

The White Dunk exhibition was held during the Silver Box era of Nike SB and was subsequently held in Paris, London and New York. Each of these events had an exclusive Nike SB colorway released in limited quantities, which is why the Paris Dunks fetch such a hefty sum in today’s sneaker climate right up there with the Pigeon, London and Tokyo dunks.

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white-dunk-10-1170x658.jpg
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White-Dunk-Tokyo-2.jpg

For this event, some artists chose to draw on the white dunk itself, while others took it a step further and created Gundam esque figures based off Japanese pop culture, all while only utilizing parts of the Nike Dunk exclusively.  Described as a “fantastic sum of their creative journeys” by Mark Parker, these artists went above and beyond in creating art inpsired by the Nike Dunk, further cementing the Dunk silhouette in the creative scene’s cultural consciousness.

Melanie is a contemporary art enthusiast, writer and cultural research strategist whose practice explores the areas inbetween art, design, commerce and the cult of collecting.