The creators of the Lil Nas X “Satan shoes” have defended the footwear, insisting that they are works of art designed to “start a conversation about consumer culture”.
Lil Nas X announced that he and New York art collective MSCHF would be releasing 666 pairs of the limited-edition “Satan shoes” last week to coincide with the release of his new single “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”.
The modified Nike Air Max 97s were filled with red ink and a single drop of human blood, and came with a gold pentagram, a symbol of an inverted cross, and an engraving of Luke 10:18 on the side, referring to a passage from the Bible that reads: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
But MSCHF was quickly blocked from selling the shoes – which retailed at $1,018, again referencing Luke 10:18 – after Nike sued the art collective for modifying and selling the footwear “without Nike’s approval and authorisation”.
Responding to the lawsuit in a statement published on its website, MSCHF questioned why Nike was trying to stop them from selling “Satan shoes” when it was allowed to sell similarly modified “Jesus shoes” two years ago.
Lil Nas X ‘Satan shoes’ are ‘art for people to observe, speculate on, purchase, and own’
In the lengthy statement, MSCHF said it creates artworks that “live directly in the systems they critique instead of hiding inside white-walled galleries.”
“There is no better way to start a conversation about consumer culture than by participating in consumer culture,” MSCHF wrote.
Satan Shoes started a conversation, while also living natively in its space. It is art created for people to observe, speculate on, purchase, and own.
“Over a year ago we released the Jesus Shoes. As a manifested speculative artwork Jesus Shoes conflates celebrity collab culture and brand worship with religious worship into a limited edition line of art objects,” the collective said.
“Last week’s release of the Satan Shoes, in collaboration with Lil Nas X, was no different. Satan Shoes started a conversation, while also living natively in its space. It is art created for people to observe, speculate on, purchase, and own.”
The collective added: “Heresy only exists in relation to doctrine: who is Nike to censor one but not the other?”
The group went on to argue that Satan is “as much part of the art historical canon as Jesus, from Renaissance Hellmouths to Milton”.
“Satan exists as the challenger to the ultimate authority. We were delighted to work with Lil Nas X on Satan shoes and continue with this dialogue.”
MSCHF said it was “honestly surprised by the action Nike has taken” and said the art collective hopes to work with Nike to reach a resolution in an “expeditious manner”.