RETHINK SHINOLA is an Internet-based artwork analyzing and critiquing luxury-goods company Shinola’s brand messages. Shinola purchased their name from the former Shinola, a shoe polish company that promoted their product 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. The company 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. RETHINK SHINOLA is not meant to be a linear formula to this problem but a way of looking at, unpacking, and addressing these complexities.
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