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Phillips hosts sneaker exhibition in New York
Shoes designed by Kehinde Wiley. Image courtesy of Phillips.

NEW YORK, NY.- This summer, Phillips’ exhibition Tongue + Chic brings together an exciting selection of one-of-a-kind sneakers designed by today’s leading artists from 16 July – 31 August at 450 Park Avenue. Private collectors, artists, and company archives have generously agreed to lend their pieces to the exhibition, including shoes that have been designed by Takashi Murakami, KAWS, Kehinde Wiley, Jenny Holzer, Damien Hirst, and Shantell Martin, among others. Curated by Elizabeth Semmelhack, Senior Curator at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, in collaboration with Arnold Lehman, Phillips Senior Advisor and former director of the Brooklyn Museum, Tongue + Chic aims to celebrate these utilitarian objects, which have become enmeshed in the realms of fashion, art, and culture.

Phillips has also included one pair of shoes, commissioned by TBWA\Chiat\Day NY and handcrafted by the Shoe Surgeon. The sneakers were featured in a high profile anti-slavery campaign on behalf of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, and are being exhibited and auctioned online. All proceeds will benefit the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s anti-slavery initiatives. The custom-made pair of trainers – containing hidden facts about slavery – were ‘unboxed’ in front of an audience of millions by YouTube star Jacques Slade earlier this year. There are more slaves today than in all of recorded human history combined, fueling a global criminal enterprise worth an estimated $150 billion per year.

Monique Villa, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, said, “The details of these very shoes brought the issue of modern slavery to a huge new audience of young consumers, many of whom would never have questioned the human price of the clothes they wear. The shoes have become a symbol of the action we can take to fight one of the world’s most shameful of crimes. Now they will be exhibited alongside the work of some truly great artists. This campaign is one of the most powerful we have been involved in – and we are hugely grateful to Phillips, Jacques Slade – and TBWA\Chiat\Day– who worked pro bono on this initiative.”

Elizabeth Semmelhack, Curator of Tongue + Chic, Senior Curator at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, said, “Today, prominent artists are engaging with the complicated cultural significance of sneakers by creating thought-provoking and highly covetable works that straddle the divide between fashion and art. Their work points to new directions that sneakers can take as vehicles for social engagement. From works that reimagine the architecture of sneakers to those that use sneakers to advocate for change, the works in this exhibition show just how far a pair of sneakers can go.”

“Phillips is delighted to have the opportunity to work with The Thomson Reuters Foundation and Elizabeth Semmelhack in bringing these works of art to the fore, several of which have never been seen publicly,” said Arnold Lehman, Phillips’ Senior Advisor, who was also instrumental in the Brooklyn Museum’s Killer Heels and Sneaker Culture exhibition. “We are also grateful to the many collectors who have so generously loaned these pieces from their collection, to be displayed alongside the pair that will be auctioned for such an important and timely cause.”

In conjunction with the exhibition, Phillips will offer a breadth of additional programming, including panel discussions, sneaker selfie booths, social media contests, and more, to bring together this passionate community of collectors and enthusiasts.

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