On Friday, January 27, Rebekah Modrak presented a talk entitled “Stop Selling What People Can’t Buy: Using Critical Design to Disrupt Brand Messaging” at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design, and Technology in Bangalore, India.
In her talk, Professor Modrak will describe her use of recreation and critical design to critique the appropriation of working class identities. She’s explored these questions in creative works, such as Re Made Co., and in written work, such as “Bougie Crap.” Her work has been noted in The New York Times, and reviewed and discussed on sites including Core77, Design Observer, and Consumption Markets & Culture.
In a recent article for WIRED Magazine, writer David Pierce referenced Rebekah Modrak’s statements made about the design object company Shinola.
“…critics argue that it’s disingenuous to call Shinola a Detroit company when its owner, Bedrock Manufacturing, and founder are in Texas. They find its use of employees in ads cynical, and decry what Rebekah Modrak of the University of Michigan calls “calculated ‘authenticity.’” Modrak calls Shinola’s stuff “bougie crap” that celebrates the image of the working class at prices only the affluent can afford. It’s hard to argue with her when you realize Shinola charges $95 for an iPhone case, $150 for a football, and $400 for a pocket knife.”
Shinola’s Quest to Make the Best Turntable You’ve Ever Heard | WIRED
Rebekah Modrak will be an Artist in Residence at the Centre for Experimental Media and Arts (CEMA) in Bangalore, India from January 7 to February 7, 2017. CEMA is an artist, hacker, and makerspace, and a platform for artistic and curatorial experimentation with media and emerging technologies that have transdisciplinarity, cooperation and social change at their heart.
The centre encourages practices, research and collaborations that employ new critical forms of reflection and engagement with contemporary culture and society, and are informed by technological developments and their aesthetic, socio-political and economic impact on our world.
While at CEMA, Modrak will work on several projects, including the curatorial collaboration #exstrange, with Marialaura Ghidini, and another intervention to be distributed in Spring 2017. #exstrange, a curatorial project transforming eBay into a site of artistic production and cultural exchange as an artistic intervention into capitalism, will launch online on January 15 and will be distributed in Kochi to coincide with the Kochi Biennale. While in Bangalore, Modrak will also organize a masterclass for Srishti Institute of Art, Design & Technology faculty.
#exstrange, the curatorial project being created by Rebekah Modrak and curator Marialaura Ghidini, has just been accepted for Project Anywhere’s 2017 program. Project Anywhere is a competitive, double blind peer reviewed international hosting site for artist projects undertaken outside traditional exhibition circuits. Project Anywhere is dedicated to the evaluation and dissemination of art at the outermost limits of location-specificity.
In addition to being hosted on the Project Anywhere website beginning in February 2017, #exstrange will be presented within the “peer reviewed presentations” at the Project Anywhere conference in NYC in November 2018 and will be included in their third biennial publication Anywhere v3 in 2019.
#exstrange is an interventionist curatorial project that encourages artists, designers and cultural critics to see the online commerce site eBay as an environment of interaction. The exhibition, which launches on January 15, 2017, will transform eBay into a site of artistic production and cultural exchange by inviting artists and designers to post auctions as artworks. Over the course of several months, participants will transform the online marketplace into a site for the exchange of ideas and critique.
Project Anywhere is a global blind peer reviewed exhibition program dedicated to promoting artistic research at the outermost limits of location-specificity. Since its inception in 2012, it has hosted between 4 and 9 projects annually…
Rebekah Modrak will be a Visiting Artist at Virginia Tech’s School of Visual Arts from November 7-8, where she will present a public lecture on her interventions in commerce using critical design and photography to address issues of cultural appropriation. During her visit, Modrak will serve as a guest critic for a digital photography course and will exhibit work in the group exhibition Rinse, Repeat at Armory Gallery. Rinse, Repeat highlights work exploring issues around labor, design and domestic space, and will also feature work by artists Jonas Sebura, Tamara Wilson, Rachel Cox, Michael Borowski, and architect Joseph Bedford.
On Wednesday, October 26, Rebekah Modrak visited Wayne State University’s “Art and Activism” course to participate in a panel presentation and discussion about institutional critique and using institutional power to support community. Modrak presented her current research into brand consumption of community and appropriation of cultural identity.
An interdisciplinary team of faculty and staff including Rebekah Modrak, Jamie Vander Broek, and Aaron Ahuvia, have received $60,000 in support from the University of Michigan’s MCubed program, a two-year seed-funding program.
Their project, “Humility in the Age of Commerce”, will explore the virtue of humility, with focus on how we live as consumers. The project will include a colloquium that gathers a diverse group of scholars and practitioners to discuss the value and costs of humility in their practices, and will culminate in a multi-disciplinary publication on how humility is exemplified through divergent practices.
Modrak, Associate Professor at Stamps, Vander Broek, U-M Librarian for Art & Design, and Ahuvia, Professor of Marketing at the U-M Dearborn College of Business, are supported by a fourth collaborator, Sarah Buss, Professor in the Department of Philosophy. Sarah Posner, Stamps BFA student, and Maggie Johnson, BA Museum Studies, are research assistants for the project.
Rebekah Modrak will give a talk on contemporary uses and mis-uses of the terms “community,” “craft,” and “labor” at the School of Art + Design / University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
The talk will present her creative interventions and publications that challenge uncritical misconceptions that “labor” and “community” are consumable experiences, and that “craft” is the domain of the leisure class. As part of her visit, Modrak will hold a brown-bag lunch with graduate students.
Hosted by the Youth in the Creative Cities Research Cluster, the talk is supported by the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities and will be held on Monday, May 2, 2016, 5pm in the School of Art + Design Building.
Harvard University’s “Fair Use Week” features Associate Professor Rebekah Modrak’s lecture about her use of fair use to challenge a cease-and-desist letter and to publish her work. “Fair Use Week” is a week-long celebration of fair use.
“Rebekah Modrak, Associate Professor, School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan, recounts the challenges she encountered after creating a work of art that incorporated 3rd party copyrighted material. In 2013, she founded Re Made Co., a “company” that parodies the urban woodsman aesthetic of Best Made Co, which markets designer axes through the rhetoric of authenticity, the appropriation of working-class identities, and the revitalization of traditional male roles.
After receiving a cease-and-desist letter, she turned for advice to College Art Association (CAA), which connected her with legal advice about fair use at the University of Michigan.”
Rebekah Modrak will give an invited lecture as part of a panel at the College Art Association conference in Washington DC on February 5 at 12:30pm. Her presentation “Re-Made Co.: Meeting Legal and Publishing Challenges with Help from CAA’s Code” is part of the panel “Putting the Fair Use Code to Work: Case Studies from Year One,” chaired by Judy Metro of the National Gallery of Art.