Writing for Ms. Magazine

In a Ms. Magazine feature article entitled “How One University is Leading the Fight Against Campus Rape Culture—By Way of a Public Reckoning,” Rebekah Modrak reveals how artist Traci Molloy’s portrait series “Against My Will,” featuring survivors of sexual assault and harassment at Alfred University, helped campus administrators to advocate for change around this campus issue.

According to Modrak, “For the past two years, Molloy has interviewed and painted portraits of over 20 AU women connected by the common bonds of surviving sexual assault or sexual harassment. Her work entered campus life in two forms: through public engagement and open discussions moderated by the artist herself, and by way of her portraits of survivors, hung as banners, that lined the walkway of Alfred University’s Academic Alley in 2018 during Sexual Assault Awareness Month and again during new student orientation.”

Alfred University administrators and trustees were encouraging of Molloy’s creative intervention, acting as supportive partners throughout the process to showcase the portraits on banners throughout campus during the prospective student tour season in 2018.

“Other universities would benefit from adapting their model of partnership—and heeding lessons from the outspoken ways Molloy and AU are welcoming testimony from survivors and exposing all students to issues around consent.”

RadicalxChange Conference in Detroit

Rebekah Modrak spoke at the RadicalxChange conference in Detroit, March 22 – 24, 2019.

RadicalxChange brings together artists, entrepreneurs, scholars and activists to explore the potential to bridge political divides and inequality through political and economic mechanism design. Modrak spoke as part of the Arts and Communication track, and the panel, Can radical imagination thrive with radical markets, data-as-labour, and the always-on-auction?

Aware that “radical imagination is not something individuals have but something collectives do,” some artists are looking for better systems for supporting cooperation, solidarity and shared values through decentralized technologies. This panel took the lived experience of contemporary artists as a lens to explore the advantages (or otherwise) for individuals and society of the ‘always-on-auction’ and ‘data-as-labour’ mechanisms proposed in Radical Markets.

Modrak was invited to speak about her work with curator Marialaura Ghidini on #exstrange, and how the project shapes and humanizes market-based platforms, re-imagining the online marketplace as an experience and opportunity to engage with social thinkers. As advocates of radical social change, the RadicalxChange community envisions an extraordinary opportunity to create real collaboration across disciplines and perspectives to address the failings of individualistic ‘isms’ and build a coalition that can defend a renewed, radical, social platform for inclusion and equality.

The panel is chaired by Ruth Catlow, co-founder and artistic director, with Marc Garrett, of Furtherfield for arts, technology and social change, a not-for profit organization that promotes the idea that it is everyone’s business to imagine and shape society together.

Harvard Fair Use Blog

Rebekah Modrak’s essay, Miller Beer-Cam & Fair Use, was published in the Harvard Fair Use Week Blog. The essay discusses Modrak’s new work Miller Makes It Right, created in collaboration with Kenzie King, in the context of fair use.

Inspired by Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, Modrak and King responded to Kavanaugh’s declaration of “I like beer” in a way that checks male power and privilege through the weaponization of beer cans.

Modrak writes: “Kenzie and I asked ourselves: If conscience and the judicial system are not enough, if police cars and bodies need to be outfitted with cameras to keep power in check, could we do the same with the beer can? If beer is to be weaponized, could it become a tool for the protection of women? We imagined a world in which MillerCoors reinterpreted their tagline “Miller Makes it Right” in the context of #MeToo.”

Miller Beer-Cam & Fair Use | Harvard Fair Use Week

Rebekah Modrak and Kenzie King Featured in Harvard Fair Use Week Blog

Metro Times Article: ” ‘Green Book’ Director Thanks Shinola for ‘Saving Detroit’ “

In an article for the Detroit Metro Times, writer Devin Culham chronicled the adverse reaction many had to Green Book director Peter Farrelly’s plug of the luxury goods brand Shinola in his thank you speech for Best Original Screenplay at the 2019 Oscar Award Ceremony. Farrelly’s thank-you speech for Best Original Screenplay concluded with “and Shinola watches – unbelievable, they’re saving Detroit!” In Cullham’s critique, he cited Rebekah Modrak’s criticism of the company in her work ReThink Shinola:

“In 2017, University of Michigan professor Rebekah Modrak analyzed how the company used Detroit and racial tropes like the “white savior” in its marketing for her project Rethink Shinola.”

Oscar-winning ‘Green Book’ director thanks Shinola for ‘saving Detroit’ | Metro Times

Presentation at CAA conference, February 2019

On Friday, February 15,  2019, Rebekah Modrak presented a paper entitled “Disarming Misogyny as a Dude” as part of the “Power, Resistance, and Gender Issues in the Arts of Women” session at the College Art Association’s 107th annual conference in New York City.

She spoke about Re Made’s brand messaging, designed (in the image of Best Made Co.) to be “masculine,” and her discovery that most viewers who encounter the work as an artwork (not a plunger company) assume that the artist behind the parody is also a man. During the presentation, she described audiences’ gendered expectations of both handcrafted plungers and art.”

Rebekah Modrak: RE MADE / BEST MADE ECHO (2014)

“Entrepreneurship 407” Article Published in the New Art Examiner

Stamps Professor Rebekah Modrak’s article “Entrepreneurship 407: White Supremacy, Benevolent Institutions, and Shinola” was published in the December 2018 edition of the New Art Examiner.

The article proposes that, even as Civil War-era Confederate monuments are de-installed around the country, the values of white supremacy find new forums in unexpected places, namely in academic institutions, through the lapses of entrepreneurial engagement.

This article was originally published by the National Center for Institutional Diversity.

New Chapter in Criticality Book

Rebekah Modrak’s chapter “Best Made Re Made: Critical Interventions in the Online Marketplace” has just been published in the book The Routledge Companion to Criticality in Art, Architecture and Design, a collection of new essays edited by Myra Thiessen and Chris Brisbin, faculty at the School of Art, Architecture and Design, University of South Australia.

The book aims to investigate Critique, Criticality, and Criticism from an inter- or multi-disciplinary perspective. With contributions from a multi-disciplinary authorship from nine countries – the UK, USA, Australia, India, Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Belgium, and Denmark – this edited volume provides a wide range of leading perspectives evaluating the landscape of criticality and how it is being shaped by technological and social advances.

Modrak’s invited and peer-reviewed contribution is within the book’s Part 4, a section reflecting on the various new ways that media influences and provides a platform for criticism and criticality and exploring the role of new media in influencing the relationship between opinion, lay critique, and traditional forms of professional expert criticism.

Her chapter examines consumptive practices and un-critical consumerism by analyzing the dual Best Made/Re Made marketing campaigns and proposing that critical artistic interventions can enact critique through strategies of parafiction and parody. The Re Made Co. artwork responds to Best Made as brand and also to the news and cultural media that can appear critical while simultaneously promulgating brand messaging, including art and design institutions that commodify, rather than critique, luxury design items like those sold by Best Made.

The Routledge Companion to Criticality in Art, Architecture and Design has been reviewed by James Elkins of the School of the Art Institute, Chicago, who writes: “This is an exceptionally carefully assembled book. Criticism inhabits this book in Protean fashion: as a profession, an historical artifact, a philosophic position, a hope, a form of experimental writing, a family of theories, a material practice, and above all as conversation and a sense of community.”

The Routledge Companion to Criticality in Art, Architecture, and Design | Routledge Taylor & Francis Group

Presentation at ANYWHERE & ELSEWHERE, Parsons The New School

Rebekah Modrak presented at the Anywhere & Elsewhere Biennial Conference, a two-day conference on November 15th and 16th at Parsons School of Design, supported as part of a partnership between Parsons Fine Arts (Parsons School of Design, The New School) and the Centre of Visual Art (University of Melbourne).

Modrak co-presented with her collaborator, curator Marialaura Ghidini, as part of the WHERE⇄ABOUT panel moderated by Christiane Paul, Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts at the Whitney Museum. Their presentation described their online curatorial project #exstrange, which generated a collection of artworks to be encountered, auction-style, by the users of one the largest marketplaces on the web, eBay. During this live exhibition project, parasitic to the commercial platform, over a hundred artists and 12 curators infiltrated eBay throughout 88 sequential days in early 2017 — spanning the inauguration of the 45th United States president, the Women’s March, and North Korean’s tests of a ballistic missile.

The Anywhere & Elsewhere Biennial Conference featured presentations from artists that successfully navigated blind peer evaluation as part of Project Anywhere’s Global Exhibition Program (2017-2018), together with invited presentations from established artists, designers, scholars, curators and writers actively engaged with practices outside traditional circuits. The conference recognized the practices of an increasing number of artists and creative practitioners working across spaces, places and temporalities well-beyond the limits of established exhibition formats. This two-day conference explored questions associated with presenting, experiencing, discussing and evaluating art located anywhere and elsewhere in space and time.

Rebekah Modrak Experimental Film Screens in Miami

Rebekah Modrak’s short animated film The Implicit Jacques Panis was screened at the 7th Art Festival of Miami in Miami, Florida on October 21, 2018. The 7th Art Festival of Miami is a forum for “counterculture cultivators,” selecting films from independent artists and filmmakers from around the world.

The Implicit Jacques Panis is a re-creation of a pre-existing promotional video presenting a typical day-in-the-life of Shinola’s then-President Jacques Panis. A choreographed succession of hats on Panis’s head throughout the narrative exposes unspoken, oft-historical, expressions of power, allowing Panis to openly act out the roles implicitly suggested by the original video.

The film festival was held at The Center For Social Change on Sunday, October 21, 2018 from 1pm – 6:30pm. Modrak’s experimental short was screened during the first segment at 2:05PM.

Address: 2103 Coral Way 2nd Floor 2nd Floor, Miami, FL

Rebekah Modrak Speaks at Fast Food For Thought

Rebekah Modrak offered her perspective on “The First Egg Out of the Chicken’s Anus” at the University of Michigan’s Sustainable Food Systems Initiative’s 5th annual Fast Food For Thought series. In this event, held on October 9, 2018, 10 interdisciplinary faculty members from across campus gave a series of fast-paced talks related to food and/or agriculture.

Modrak spoke about the elevation of the ordinary within status-based consumption, as exemplified by the first egg out of a chicken’s vent.

5th Annual “Fast Food for Thought” | Sustainable Food Systems Initiative