AIR FORCE 1 40th anniversary celebrated in Johannesburg

From Friday the 23rd of September till Sunday the 25th of September, Gallery On 4th in Melville provided a space for guests to witness the collective power of force rooted in community. Together with selected protagonists – DBN Gogo, Wanda Lepotho and Anthony Bila – Nike in the spirit of collectiveness brought the gallery to life. The weekend-long exhibition went beyond the viewing of works from our community heroes, as the space also featured pieces from emerging artists who together with established creatives expressed what it meant to ‘Be True ‘ in South Africa.

The launch evening accompanied by the weekend visits of the exhibition and campaign highlighted the core of the Air Force 1; Which is rooted in community and culture. Because the truth is, without community, there would be no 40th and there would be no Air Force One.

It is through the exhibition that guests and future community heroes were reminded that alone we’re individuals, however, together we’re so much more. And so using the voices of the selected 3 catalysts; guests had the unique opportunity to dive deeper into their stories that further introduced everyone to the 5 upcoming talented individuals – mentees –  identified by them that were showcased at Gallery on 4th.

The curtation of bringing together an interactive and real-life experience was inspired by one of Nike’s classic and iconic moments which debuted at Gallery on 4th 12 years ago. What was originally conceptualised to be a space to exhibit the work of established and emerging artists whose work embodied what it meant to ‘Be True’ in South Africa, has now been elevated to positioning Gallery on 4th as a  collective voice of and for creatives. A platform that heroes a new generation of Force powered by community shelters which continue to shape our street and sneaker culture.

Through authentically using the voices of creative catalysts to pay homage to community shelters that continue to fuel the spirit of Unreasonable Belief amongst our youth, each protagonist’s story began in the places that helped shape them. Further reinforcing the idea that where their identified mentees find themselves today, can assist them in uniquely telling their own stories inspired by their immediate surroundings and joint community.

The common thread of joint force in building community is something all 3 protagonists – Anthony Bila, DBN Gogo and Wanda Lephoto – are familiar with. Anthony Bila, multidisciplinary artist, further highlighted how he’s proud of his origin story.

“I found safety in my creativity and community, it kept me occupied and inspired, it kept me dreaming about seeing the world and those closest to me kept encouraging me. As much as creativity saved me, community made me”


The evening which marked the beginning of the weekend-long exhibition reminded everyone of how “a win for one, is a win for all” – further redefining what community looks like as well as community shelters of the future through the encouragement of collective Joint FORCE.

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