Rebekah Modrak’s film The Implicit Jacques Panis was accepted into the Bolton International Film Festival in Bolton, UK this October 2-4, 2018. The Bolton Film Festival screens innovative and groundbreaking short films from independent filmmakers from around the UK and the world. Modrak’s film will be screened in a showing of Experimental Film Shorts.
The Implicit Jacques Panis is a rectified readymade, made by painting on a found video promoting the company Shinola. The source footage shows a day-in-the-life of Shinola’s former president Jacques Panis. Detroit is the playground for his activities and his scene of conquest. The altered film creatively comments on the original by dressing Panis in a series of hats that hint at the implications of power in each scene. The Implicit Jacques Panis is dense with allusions to American history, politics, and pop culture, humorously trapping Panis as a deadpan actor in his role as a leader marketing Detroit authenticity for the consumption of affluent whites.
Rebekah Modrak’s art practice is featured by journalist Valerie Vande Panne in a recent article published on the progressive news magazine Alternet. In Meet the Artist Using Media to Defang Capitalism, Vande Panne introduces the artworks Re Made Co. and Rethink Shinola, writing: “Humor and truth help expose profound colonialism, racism, and straight-up ridiculousness used to sell luxury products.”
“You may have heard of Shinola, the racist shoe-polish company of the early 20th century whose brand was reinvented by hypercapitalists from Texas into the feel-good story of Detroit, marketing $1,100 watches and bicycles for more than what many Detroiters would pay for a car.”
Shinola’s marketing might make rich white folk feel like they’re “saving” Detroit by purchasing one of those incredibly overpriced, made in China/assembled in the USA by poor black people, pieces. But what the company is really doing is reinforcing a racist, plantation mentality, and selling it to the world like they are martyrs saving Detroit with each and every watch that bears its name.
But, if you’re not media and history savvy, you probably don’t know that. Enter Rebekah Modrak, an artist and professor at University of Michigan’s Stamps School of Art & Design.”
Meet the Artist Using Media to Defang Capitalism
Meet the Artist Using Media to Defang Capitalism
Humor and truth help expose profound colonialism, racism, and straight-up ridiculousness used to sell luxury products. You may have heard of Shinola, the racist shoe-polish company of the early 20th century whose brand was reinvented by hypercapitalists from Texas into the feel-good story of Detroit, marketing $1,100 watches and bicycles for more than what many Detroiters would pay for a car.
Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies has invited Stamps Associate Professor Rebekah Modrak as an honored guest and featured voice at their Fair Use Week Symposium on March 1, 2018. The one-day program, “Tried and True: Fair Use Tales for the Telling,” celebrates Harvard’s Fifth Anniversary Fair Use Week, with leading fair use scholars and practitioners sharing their stories and engaging in discussion about this powerful provision in copyright law.
During the symposium, Modrak is scheduled to speak on the panel “Fair Use Makers and Policy Shapers,” where she will talk about legal contests to her interventionist work Re Made Co. (http://remadeco.org), an artwork posing as a “company” to critique brand appropriation of working class identities, and her use of sourcing in her latest work, Rethink Shinola (http://rethinkshinola.com).
An article co-written by Rebekah Modrak and Rochester Institute of Technology communications scholar Jonathan Schroeder is featured in the latest issue of Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism, published by Visual Studies Workshop. The article is part of a special issue of Afterimage called “Media Literacy in a Post-Factual Age.”
Modrak and Schroeder’s article, “Performing Skepticism through Parody: Re Made Company’s Media Critique,” proposes that the artwork Re Made Co.’s fabrication of fake New York Times and Wall Street Journal articles, among others, is a positive parodic version of “fake news” that exposes flaws in journalism and media, which feign criticality while simultaneously propagating brand messaging. Whereas “fake news” via the internet, as in the context of the 2016 Trump/Clinton election, poses serious concerns for democratic processes and critical perspectives, the “fake news” of Re Made can be an important training tool to teach skepticism about information presented via internet-based media — an elaborate effort to enhance media literacy.
The Re Made Co. work can be viewed at http://remadeco.org/
Neural magazine of new media art, electronic music and hacktivism published a review of Rebekah Modrak and co-editor Marialaura Ghidini’s book #exstrange: a Curatorial Intervention on eBay.
Writer Aurielio Cianciotta describes #exstrange “one of the most significant net art initiatives of the last few years, developing critical online artworks and creating a whole updated symbolic system.”
The full review can be read at:
The #exstrange project began with a curatorial invitation to 21 artists to launch a 7-day artwork-as-auction on eBay. This was followed by a series of interventions by 11 guest curators based across the world who, in turn, invited three artists each according to their own interpretation of the project. Other participants joined along the way through the open call or by coming across the project. Connected by the tag #exstrange in the listing title, the works could be found in that vast archive of commodities online that is eBay, while this website aggregated them in real time on the home page and now functions as an archive. 102 artworks-as-auctions were created during #exstrange, and 91 artists, designers, collectives, researchers, and also students participated in the project. #exstrange launched on the 15 January 2017, and ended on the 13 April 2017, with the last auction posted on the 8 April.
View #exstrange at http://exstrange.com/
edited by Rebekah Modrak and Marialaura Ghidini – #exstrange: A Curatorial Intervention on Ebay
Rebekah Modrak’s Rethink Shinola project is featured in a Dec. 12, 2017 Metro Times article by Michael Jackman.
“That video is at the center of an entire website Modrak created to analyze Shinola’s efforts to use Detroit’s grit and toughness to help market their watches. It’s called Rethink Shinola, and it doesn’t pull any punches. All told, it offers more than an hour of material, opening with a provocative image: An ad used by the former Shinola company (1877-1960) before the name was bought in 2001 by Shinola’s current owners. The ad features a caricature of a black shoeshiner.
As the Rethink Shinola site points out, the “new” Shinola “also creates representations of whiteness to reinforce their ‘leadership’ and creates and markets images of black workers being grateful for this so-called leadership. Constructing and controlling images of African Americans is central to racism and maintaining white supremacy.”
Rebekah Modrak was a visiting artist at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) on November 15 and 16, 2017.
Modrak presented her work to the Interventions in Capitalism MFA research group at RISD’s Department of Digital + Media, and conducted studio visits with MFA students. The Interventions in Capitalism research group is a focused studio of MFA students working to rethink brand and mass media environments. Modrak spoke about her own interventions into commerce with the online artworks Re Made Co. and Rethink Shinola.
Digicult Editions announces the release of its new book Investigations on the Cultural Economy of Media Art, edited by Alessio Chierico. The book features an essay by Rebekah Modrak and co-author Marialaura Ghidini (Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore, India). The essay — “The Labor of #exstrange: Visualizing, Activating, Cleansing, and Making Trouble in the Online Marketplace” — examines the relationships between labor, net-based media and the market.
Investigations on the Cultural Economy of Media Art is a collection of the heterogeneous perspectives that are contributing to the current discussion about the economies of the Media Art field. Alessio Chierico is an artist and researcher at Kunstuniversität Linz based in Linz, Austria. Acknowledging the needs of the art market and its role in the commodification and validation of art practices, this book expands its gaze to the whole setting of the art economy; a special emphasis is put on new innovative and critical models. Established in 2005 Digicult is one of the main international platforms investigating the impact of digital technologies and applied sciences on art, design and contemporary culture.
The book includes papers and essays from (and interviews to) some of the most important curators and critics investigating the possible and impossible impacts of technologies on production, distribution, collection and market of media art pieces.
AUTHORS INCLUDED: Paolo Cirio, Annette Doms, Vincenzo Estremo, Steve Fletcher, Marialaura Ghidini, Wolf Lieser, Jonas Lund, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Marco Mancuso, Rebekah Modrak, Christiane Paul, Domenico Quaranta, Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau, Gerfried Stocker, Pau Waelder.
A recent article published on Design Incubation cites Rebekah Modrak’s project Re Made Co. as an emerging model of speculative work in design, using research-based production and media-based dissemination. In the article “Critical Practices as Design Scholarship: Opportunities and Strategies,” scholars Jessica Barness and Steven McCarthy ask “How might design faculty approach the production and dissemination of creative work that is neither client-based nor fine art? Over the past decade, other paths to knowledge formation and scholarly productivity have emerged, and we refer to these as critical practices. Involving a speculative approach to design (experimental, expressive, future-oriented), critical practices combine an authorial point-of-view with research and the tangible aspects of media, technology, materials, and process.” The paper “is written for faculty, scholars, administrators, and practitioners interested in learning more about critical practices and their connection with design scholarship.”
The Re Made project is online at http://remadeco.org/
Rebekah Modrak’s Rethink Shinola was recently featured by the Praxis Center, an online resource center for scholars, activists, and artists hosted by the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College.
“RETHINK SHINOLA is a multi-part, Internet-based artwork analyzing and critiquing the branding messages publicized by the company Shinola, founded in 2011. Shinola’s name is “a nod” to the former Shinola, a shoe polish company that promoted its products using racist caricatures of African Americans. The “new” Shinola company planted itself in Detroit and leverages and profiteers from the extreme conditions and image of the city as a site of grit and resilience. The brand creates representations of patriarchal whiteness to enforce perceptions of their “leadership” and circulates images of African American employees being grateful for this so-called governance. In Shinola’s narratives, the “wild” Detroit environment needs a civilized savior who can first identify with and then tame and civilize the savage.”
By Rebekah Modrak RETHINK SHINOLA is a multi-part, Internet-based artwork analyzing and critiquing the branding messages publicized by the company Shinola, founded in 2011. Shinola’s name is “a nod” to …