World-renowned South African contemporary artist Esther Mahlangu’s customised Air Jordans, which are estimated to be worth over R7 million, are not for sale.
During Expo 2020 Dubai, South Africa’s pavilion visitors had the opportunity to have their favourite pair of sneakers customised by a talented set of South African artists, which included Ayashisa Mateki, Menzi Mthethwa and Mahlangu.
During the expo, 190 countries had pavilions at the event, with the countries showcasing tourism, food, science, business, social and cultural interaction. The event is expected to run for six months.
Mahlangu’s unique sneakers are estimated to be worth $500,000 ( R7.7 million) and were unveiled last week, Business Insider reported.
Mthethwa commissioned Mahlangu to customise the Air Jordan sneakers, which, after their display in Dubai, will be showcased in galleries in Paris, London and New York, the publication reported.
Mthethwa told the publication it is a way to connect with the younger generation and gives a louder voice to the Ndebele culture.
These sneakers’ value is slightly less than basketball legend Michael Jordan’s original 1985 pair, which fetched R8.6 million at a Sotheby’s auction.
The R7.7 million value of the Air Jordans is a showcasing fee that supports the development of SA artists through the Ayashisa Amateki academy.
The sneakers will be brought back to South Africa for a tour before they are showcased across the world. Mthethwa told Business Insider adamantly that he has no intention to sell the sneakers.
South Africa’s exhibition has been met well, with local singers such as Mi Casa, Blaq Diamond, DJ Maphorisa, Ami Faku, Daliwonga, Mzansi Youth Choir, Drakensberg Boys Choir and Sho Madjozi making an appearance.
Mahlangu received an honorary doctorate in 2018 for her legacy as a cultural entrepreneur who has skilfully negotiated local and global worlds and played a major role as an educator.
Compiled by Sandisiwe Mbhele