Turn On: Sneax
"What makes you feel exciting? What wakes you up inside?" Madonna uttered these words back in 1992 on one of the singles from her controversial album "Erotica" - enticing the object of her affection to reveal his innermost desires to her. Everyone has some secret erotic trigger; something they fetishize and keep to themselves in some quiet corner of their mind. It's their own private treasure that they share with no one, and keep all to themselves.
Athletes and athletics have been an appealing inspiration for artists for countless generations. Whether Olympians cast in marble or immortalized al fresco, the athlete has been both an idol of envy and longing. Photographers have often to explored the erotic nature of the sportsman. Athletic gear, whether it be jocks or socks, shorts or tanks, have raced many a pulse into a sweaty, breathless frenzy. But what about the leather and laces that work hardest on the pavement? With every flex on the court, or on the track, every stride on the treadmill, every slide into first, there's a sneaker that's moving that fine specimen along.
In the photo book "Turn On: Sneax" various artists contribute and elaborate on the motif of the sneaker (or trainer as it is called across the pond) as a thing of wanton pleasure and explosive craving. There are the usual muscle boys in their running shorts and Nikes, flexing and glistening, or the men in their sweats and tight black T-shirts. "Sneax" explores all sizes and shapes, and yes - there's plenty of nudity.
What the photographs capture so well is the diversity in the casual interpretation of the clothing item itself. Whether dressing it up, or down, everyone wears sneakers. To imagine so many intricate arrays of men in their high-tops or running shoes...well you won't have to anymore. Not with this collection of images.
The sports editorial shots (some styled very closely to current trends) aside, the kink and raunch reads better than some of the rawer and staged elements. The 70s porn styled images are interesting, but certainly not as evocative as the shots of the muscular gym jocks. There are even some in-action photos of footballers that are sure to get a rise out of even the most casual viewer, but stripping the studs down to only their footwear really just does the job nicely.
"Sneax" is an interesting exploration, and beautifully varied, but unless you're really into sneakers as a fetish, the eventual allure becomes tame and eventually - like your own sneakers - you'll wear them out, and choose a more fashionable shoe to wear.
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Turn On: Sneax
Bruno Gmunder Verlag