This week’s interviewee is Luan Batista, photographer and visual artist, who spoke about his classic Superstar. His interview is part of the Home Of Classics project, a partnership between us and SneakersBR with support from adidas. In this project we will tell about used classics with a lot of history.
“I’m Luan Batista, I’m a photographer and visual artist. My hobbies are all visual arts and photography oriented. Besides that, I’m a professional inline street skater. I’m a workaholic, I’m always thinking about work, everything I do, buy and relate to is image-based. I’m part of a black peripheral audiovisual collective, called Black Pipe Entretenimento. I also have a photography company and a few art exhibitions, I’ve competed in several skating tournaments (hahaha). So yeah, my life is a mixture of all of that. A little bit of every tribe, a little bit of every job, like it was a giant milkshake, blending everything together. I do a little bit of everything, I’m a multitasker.”
I SEARCHED FOR THE BEST PHOTOGRAPHY COLLEGE IN SÃO PAULO, AND THE MOST EXPENSIVE ONE TOO (LAUGHS). SO I EARNED MY BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN PHOTOGRAPHY, I SPENT 4 YEARS COMPLETELY DEDICATED TO IT. I SOLD A BUNCH OF STUFF, SNEAKERS, CLOTHES, EQUIPMENT, WENT BACK TO LIVING WITH MY MOM. I READJUSTED MY LIFE SO I COULD FOCUS EXCLUSIVELY ON PHOTOGRAPHY.
How did you become interested in and involved with photography?
Getting into photography was a little hard because I don’t come from a family of photographers, or artists, or any thing like that. It was something that clicked within me, I was roller skating and in sports, people are always taking photos and making videos and I felt a lack of photographic recordings in inline skating – which is a very small scene in Brazil – but especially for us peripherals, from the extreme east of São Paulo. So I started photographing with the intention of having any kind of recording and bringing this to light.
Then during my therapy and deconditioning the eye sessions with Cláudio Feijó – an incredible person – I understood that through photography I was able to replace someone I missed, my father, to be more precise. My dad isn’t in the picture – it’s that classic father-had-a-kid-and-left story. Anyway, when he walked out, he left his camera and ever since I was a kid, I would assemble and disassemble it. And that got stuck in my subconscious.
After many years, my friend Raquel taught me the basics of photography and that made something inside me click. I replaced the absence of my father with photography. This shit became my dad, it filled his absence. Me, photography and my mom, we built our family on this. I decided to go to college and in my mind, I was like “dude, I have to study, I really need to understand what I’m doing, I need to make the most of everything as much as possible”. So then, I searched for the best photography college in São Paulo, and the most expensive one too (hahaha). So I earned my bachelor’s degree in Photography, I spent 4 years completely dedicated to it. I sold a bunch of stuff, sneakers, clothes, equipment, went back to living with my mom. I readjusted my life so I could focus exclusively on photography. I did the crazy thing of getting into college with no scholarship, no discount, no incentive, no mom or dad to help financially. I paid for it with my blood, sweat, and tears. So much so that this was the last sneaker I bought when I got in.
Oh, I was part of a reality show in 2017! It was that drastic! This shit was crazy. I was invited to participate in a photography reality show. Out of nowhere, they found me. They found my work, called me and said: “Dude, there’s a reality show project here, do you want in?” I thought I was going to work for the show. During the interview, I said “Wow! Shooting a reality show, I’ve never done that before” then when I got there they were like “No, you’re going to be in the reality show!” I was like “What!? Me in a reality show?”, then it all happened and it was awesome. Photography wise It was a crazy immersion. It was the first time my work was appreciated, you know? People were into it, I had people come up and talk to me from other states saying “yo, I saw your photos”. It was amazing. It resulted in a Book, you know? Which was something really neat. I always had this craze to make a book, I still have that. And I’ve edited other people’s books, I’ve curated other people’s books, but I never got to make my own. I’m featured in one! Which’s a begging. And there’s also the one I made for my final project in college, which is a book based on what was also published.
What does the object “sneaker” represent to you?
Sneakers are a really crazy thing. Having to let go of them was really hard. At least I’m not an impulsive buyer, like “saw it on display and bought it” type of person, you know? I buy sneakers that I want to have. The Adidas Brooklyn, I bought in 2015 for several reasons. I know the story behind the sneakers I wear. For me, sneakers really shows a person’s personality. Like I can have many pairs of sneakers, but you can see they all follow the same line. For instance, I just wear black and the only colorful thing I wear are sneakers. You won’t see me wearing color clothes out in the streets, but you will see me wearing colorful sneakers.
I know sneakers have value, history, there’s a reason why the dude made these sneakers. I go even further like, this seam is like this because the dude thought of this design, thought of all the colors, this lace is not random. It’s like a photo. There’s a reason for everything in my photos, the place has a reason, the backdrop has a reason, the lighting has a reason. With sneakers is the same thing. The dude made it in suede for a reason, the thread is white for another. He has his little story.
Why did you, among all your Adidas, choose the Adidas Superstar “NYC East River Rivalry” to tell your story?
Let me tell you the whole story. When I was in the “get into college mission”, I had no money, I was going to an expensive, rich boy’s college, with no scholarship, with nothing. So I had to make money. I started selling everything I had. I sold clothes, sold my cap collection, sold my sneakers, sold a lot of analog cameras too. I had this shitty job as an I.T. analyst for the Military Police. So I worked inside the Military Police Headquarters , at Tiradentes Station, in Bom Retiro. It was very stressful being inside that thing, it was toxic. But I was really into going to college, paying everything, in my mind I would go for a long time without buying sneakers, clothes, basically not living (hahaha). Or living on instant noodles.
Inside the Police, everything is standard. Everybody dresses the same, everybody has the same haircut … and since I had sold all my sneakers I was only wearing boots and combat boots. And I looked just like one of them, I was wearing combat boots just like everybody there! I got desperate, I couldn’t be like them! And then, working at this horrible place, someone said one day “you’re so close to us, you look like us, you even wear combat boots like us”. And I was like “Dude, no way!”, I started going crazy and I said to myself “I’m going to buy a pair of sneakers right now”. Guadalupe store was really close to the headquarters. I would go out for lunch and every time I would walk by it, gazing the kicks in the window.
At the time, Adidas had launched that rivalry Superstar collection between the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks. The Nets’ were black and blue and the Knicks’ blue and orange. When I saw it, I was like “Fuck it, I’m getting a Superstar, it’s a classic that I still haven’t had. I’ll have to buy these kicks”. And to damn my luck, they put the black ones in display on the window, and I had to look at them every day on my way to lunch. And I really wanted them. I was low on money, I’d just finished paying for college. I’d sold everything to pay for college. So to save up some money I started eating less.
There was a Bank of Brazil next to my job, I walked in there and said “I need money, what can we do about it? Loan, overdraft?” ( hahaha). So we figured something out, an overdraft arrangement that I would pay back once I got my paycheck. So I got the money and went straight to the store and walked out with those kicks on my feet. I told myself “I won’t look like those dumb asses” and went back to work wearing them. Then everybody was staring at my sneakers like “yo, how ’bout these sneakers?” Those are tight right? They’re the Brooklyn joins you know. After that, I left the headquarters. I was there for only a couple of months more.
So this sneaker marks me quitting the shitty job, where everybody wanted me to be like them and throwing myself into photography. My Superstar was part of most my projects because it was one of the only pairs I had and they were the ones I wore the most. That’s why it’s really worn out. It was my gig sneakers. Then the front ripped off, it turned yellow, but I think they lasted a lot for a suede sneaker.
Could you tell us a little bit about the story of this pack?
This sneaker came out in 2015, to celebrate the rivalry between the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks. And it’s crazy because this rivalry has been going on for ages. I met some people from New York that told the shit is like Corinthians and Palmeiras (hahaha). I thought it was really cool of the brand to bring this healthy rivalry and pay tribute to the teams. I just wish they had a pack mixing both of them, but then I think it would be too big of a feud (laughs).