by Jerry ElengicalOct 30, 2021
Global sportswear brand Adidas has partnered with the Delhi-based St+art Foundation and French artist Chifumi Krohom to deliver a moving tribute towards the power of sport to change human lives for the better. The initiative has taken the form of an urban art intervention on the surface of the basketball court at St. Andrew’s High School in Mumbai, India, rendered by Krohom in his signature pop art style. Depicting a pivotal moment before any team sporting event (that of a team huddle) the endeavour is an attempt to highlight the importance of collaboration and togetherness in achieving shared goals and breaking down barriers. Now on view for the public, it channels an evocative written message along its borders: “We See Possibilities, When We Come Together,” that serves as a spiritual extension of Adidas’ global ‘Impossible is Nothing’ brand motto.
Bold lines and bright colours are a mainstay of Krohom’s aesthetic, and the artist is known for expressing culturally relevant meanings within the multitude of urban contexts that he visits and works in. A notably visible feature of the art installation is its promotion of inclusivity and diversity - by depicting hands belonging to a variety of gender identities and ethnicities. In doing so, the intervention serves to highlight the erosion of all differences in the face of the unified action and team spirit that is necessary in sport. With the recent prominence in similar urban art interventions such as those by French flacking artist Ememem, and installations by multidisciplinary artist and designer Yinka Ilori through the streets of London, the medium is gaining a significant degree of the spotlight, and is in many ways, viewed as an effective means of enlivening public space while encouraging civic responsibility and pride within the urban realm. Oozing energy and vibrancy, the installation’s graphic design also captures the palpable tension and energy that precedes a sporting event, engaging people to adopt a ‘We over me’ mentality and transform the court into a hotspot for community building.
While speaking with STIR, Sunil Gupta, Senior Brand Director at Adidas India, shares his insights on the genesis of the installation as well as how it closely ties to the sportswear brand’s ethos.
STIR: What led to the collaboration and how can graphic design interventions at the youth level foster a better sporting culture?
Sunil Gupta (SG): We had done a similar partnership with St+art India against the backdrop of International Women’s Day last year, where the artwork Girls=Boys delivered an impactful message of equality and inclusivity in sports culture. The initiative received a very positive response and encouraged us to continue the association, innovatively fusing the world of art and sports as a medium for powerful storytelling.
We have and continue to consistently invest our efforts behind initiatives that create a meaningful, unique, and impactful brand experience for our consumers. Our attitude, ‘Impossible is Nothing’, continues to be a driving force and inspires us and all our efforts, including this initiative. This spectacular artwork captures the spirit of teamwork, inspiring young athletes to adopt the We over Me mentality, because it’s only when we come together, that we can drive change and achieve the impossible. We envision the basketball court at St. Andrew’s High School to be a canvas that inspires and connects various communities to see a world of limitless possibilities.
STIR: Would the project spread wings into other parts of the country? Please tell us more about these.
SG: We are very excited to see this project come to life, just the way we envisioned it. In terms of future projects, stay tuned to see how this journey unfolds in 2022.
STIR: Concerning the message about coming together: Team spirit is all the more important in the post pandemic world as also recently adopted by the Venice Architecture Biennale. How does this campaign channel the spirit?
SG: Being a sportswear brand, team culture runs in our DNA and needless to say, it’s been an integral part of several past campaigns. With our brand purpose and attitude at heart, we have created this larger-than-life canvas to inspire the world and deliver an impactful yet simple message, ‘We See Possibilities, When We Come Together’. This striking urban arts intervention is yet another initiative by the brand to amplify its larger, ‘Impossible is Nothing’ narrative with a central focus on the importance of team spirit and collaboration in breaking new ground and achieving shared goals.
STIR also spoke with French artist Chifumi Krohom, who shed light on the inspirations, motives, and messages he hoped to convey with this initiative.
STIR: Consciousness begins young, but design intervention in schools is a sensitive matter and needs more care given impressionable minds. What was going through your mind while creating the landscape art for this project?
Chifumi Krohom (CK): This artwork speaks about team spirit. The message I had in mind was to show how we must come closer and celebrate togetherness amidst our diverse identities.
STIR: Contextual design / graphic art must be informed by the culture of a city or place. What is your relationship with the landscape and fabric of Mumbai and how did this translate into your designs?
CK: I usually integrate contextual and local elements inspired by the culture and architecture of a place in my artworks. For this particular intervention, the main inspiration was the basketball court itself, which was also our canvas for visual storytelling. A team huddle is a powerful moment of togetherness before any sporting event or match, and hence I tried to showcase this through a design that is simple and universal in nature.
STIR: One glimpses ethnic equality / LGBTQ support in the designs. These are important subjects for students - does visual impact make for the most effective learning?
CK: Yes, equality, diversity and inclusivity are at the core of this artwork. In this artwork, the main message being conveyed is that of ethnic and gender equality. After all, it is a global truth that ultimately, we are all made from the same atoms. And it is only ‘when we come together, that we see possibilities’ and are able to accomplish anything!
STIR: How can urban art and design play a significant part in the upliftment of sports at the grassroots level?
CK: The beauty of art is that it cannot be confined into a box. Urban art and painting definitely has a strong impact, as more than effective learning, it can contribute towards making a better environment for various local communities. For me, to work on a special art intervention at a basketball court was an amazing opportunity to give a new dimension to street art, painting and urban art. Players on the court too will become elements of the artwork itself, and thus in a way, it is close to the concept of ‘relational aesthetics’, that was theorised by Nicolas Bourriaud.
STIR: What is at the core of the designs that you have created?CK: I usually take inspiration from the local culture, architecture and social fabric of a particular neighbourhood in order to depict or celebrate a culturally relevant message for that community. I like using pop art for its strong visual appeal and recurring motifs like human hands and body gestures to express different meanings through the cities where I travel. I have worked on a lot of art interventions including street art and large murals where I always combine contextual and local elements to create a sensible approach to social art.