Word on the Street



You may recall from last year, standing in front of Jenny Holzer’s scrolling text on the parallel 11 by 48-foot long LED signs she placed on the floor of her show at the Whitney. The words seemed to emanate from your feet. Now, the conceptual artist’s alluring phrase, “Protect me from what I want”–which has appeared on T-shirts, posters, condoms, stone benches, BMWs, and in lights above Times Square–will also wrap around your shoes this July. The words are making their way onto the “blank canvas,” of Keds sneakers, created by the brand for their sponsorship of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 2010 Summer Season, including a series of daily live performances, and the Whitney Live Friday night music series.

The Keds Collective, which features many artist-inspired designs, usually incorporates flattened representations of their designers’ aesthetics, rendering them in floral patterns, brightly colored geometries, and graphic cartoon landscapes. However, the Jenny Holzer Keds (which will launch exclusively at select Bloomingdale’s stores and Keds.com) add an extra dimension to the brand’s stable of artist collaborations–using kitsch to actually play up major themes in Holzer’s work. Each time Holzer’s subversive messages are recycled, as on this summer’s Keds, they intensify, confronting us with our desires and questioning consumer impulses. Coming in both white-on-white, and grey-on-black, Keds squeezes Holzer’s characteristically Futura-Bold typeface of Protect-Me-From-What-I-Want, around their plain exterior, making for a clean, hipster-friendly design, that when examined more closely, may stop you in your tracks.