Chapter Published in Routledge book about Art-Based Research

Rebekah Modrak contributed a chapter to the recently published book Art-Based Research in the Context of a Global Pandemic, which explores the opportunities offered by art-based research. Art-Based Research (Routledge 2023), edited by Usva Seregina and Astrid Van den Bossche, considers the central, illuminative role that art-based research plays in our understanding of the unfolding crises of the Covid-19 global pandemic. Contributions to the book capture and explore lived experiences of the pandemic and begin a discussion about how meaning-making is changing through and beyond the pandemic. The book further explores how the practice of art-based research in itself has been challenged and transformed.

Modrak’s chapter, titled “‘Public School Teachers, You All Completely Disgust Me!’: How My Fake Trump Fought the Revolt of the Elites in Pandemic-era Ann Arbor,” reflects upon an artwork she created during the first year of the COVID pandemic in which she studied a group of consumer-minded parents who regarded public education as a ‘service’ like any other, subsidized by their tax dollars and, therefore, answerable to them. Incensed by the choice to shift learning to virtual classrooms early in the pandemic, before vaccines were available, this group of parents gave public commentary at Board of Education meetings disparaging the expertise of teachers, unions, and school board representatives and tacitly embracing the corporate paradigm that regards public schools as purveyors of goods and services, beholden to customers. In her chapter, Modrak describes hiring a Donald J. Trump impersonator to reread excerpts of these parental criticisms aloud in school board meetings, recording Trump’s diatribe, and inserting the video into a pre-recorded Board of Education meeting as though Trump had been one of the public speakers.  The video work was introduced into Facebook groups to elicit conversations about the toll such tactics were taking on teachers.

Exhibition at presents The Broken Timeline (TBT), a lineage of web-based curatorial projects that give insight into the discourse on digital art and its curation today. Curated by Annet Dekker, Marialaura Ghidini, and Gaia Tedone in collaboration with Valiz, the TBT made a small selection of our favourite projects that highlight the intricate socio-technicalities of the web. Following and subverting technical trends, and despite being often short-lived and thus lacking a historical memory, these projects present new ways of audience engagement, question the value of authorship, and open the possibility to reconfigure traditional models and methods for presenting, accessing, and distributing art. Thereby they are challenging established museum values and advancing alternative ways of understanding art stewardship, curatorial authority, and public access.

Participating artists: Rebecca Birch and Rob Smith, Damjanski, Emmanuel Guez and Zombectro, Sabine Hochrieser, Michael Kargl, Mary Meixner,  Marialaura Ghidini and Rebekah Modrak, Martine Neddam, Chiara Passa, Nina Roehrs, Sakrowski, Sebastian Schmieg and Silvio Lorusso, Guido Segni and Matìas Ezequiel Reyes, Krystal South,  Franz Thalmair, and Miyö Van Stenis., The Broken Timeline exhibition

The Public Philosophy Journal Presents the Radical Humility Forum

The Public Philosophy Journal (PPJ) at Michigan State University will offer the Radical Humility: Forum on Wednesday, April 6 from 3-5pm. The event centers around a series of reflections about the book Radical Humility: Essays on Ordinary Acts (Belt Publishing 2021), a collection of articles that explores the salience of humility within our current social and cultural contexts, and examines the ways in which humility can affect social and institutional change. The collection is edited by Rebekah Modrak and the Jamie Vander Broek.

Inspired by the ideas found in Radical Humility, a group of artists, activists, and authors have come together to write responses to the book, which will be published by the Public Philosophy JournalThe Radical Humility Forum is a space for the responders to have a dialogue about those pieces and the ideas on radical humility contained within.

In addition to Modrak and Vander Broek, participants include:

  • Ruth Nicole Brown, the Inaugural Chairperson of the Department of African American and African Studies at Michigan State University.
  • Nimot Ogunfemi is a doctoral student in Counseling Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
  • Dr. Beronda Montgomery, a writer, science communicator and currently a Michigan State University Foundation Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics.
  • Todd Shaw has been on faculty since 2003 and has appointments both in UofSC’s Department of Political Science and the African American Studies Program.
  • Morgan Shipley (Ph.D.) is the Inaugural Foglio Endowed Chair of Spirituality and Associate Chair of Religious Studies at Michigan State University.
  • Paulina Camacho Valencia is an artist, educator, and scholar. She is a member of the Chicago ACT Collective, a group of friends committed to building political artistic collaborations in multiple communities through artmaking.
  • Gretel Van Wieren is Professor of Religious Studies and affiliated faculty in Philosophy at Michigan State University where her research and teaching explore the spiritual and moral dimensions of people’s relationships to land.

The Public Philosophy Journal seeks to engage in philosophy with the public by creating an inclusive space in which community voices are recognized, heard, and supported as vital to the practices of public philosophy.

Chapter Published in “Art as Social Practice” (Routledge 2022)

The newly published book Art as Social Practice: Technologies for Change (Routledge, March 2022) features a chapter by Rebekah Modrak. With a focus on socially engaged art practices in the twenty-first century, Art as Social Practice, edited by xtine burrough and Judy Walgren, explores how artists use their creative practices to raise consciousness, form communities, create change, and bring forth social impact through new technologies and digital practices.

Modrak’s chapter, Can This Be a Community When You’re Trying To Sell Me A Luxury Watch?, proposes that if companies are going to claim to create “community,” artists should bring them into the fold of community-engaged practices and trouble their claims.

Art as Social Practice features a foreword by artist Suzanne Lacy. Section introductions by authors/​artists Anne Balsamo, Harrell Fletcher, Natalie Loveless, Karen Moss, and Stephanie Rothenberg present chapters that feature in-depth case studies by established and emerging contemporary artists including Kim Abeles, Christopher Blay, Joseph DeLappe, Mary Beth Heffernan, Chris Johnson, Rebekah Modrak, Praba Pilar, Tabita Rezaire, and Sylvain Souklaye.

Artists offer firsthand insight into how they activate methods used in socially engaged art projects from the twentieth century and incorporate new technologies to create twenty-first century, socially engaged, digital art practices. Works highlighted in this book span collaborative image-making, immersive experiences, telematic art, time machines, artificial intelligence, and physical computing. These reflective case studies reveal how the artists collaborate with participants and communities, and have found ways to expand, transform, reimagine, and create new platforms for meaningful exchange in both physical and virtual spaces.

UM Careers for Sex Offenders

UM Careers for Sex Offenders is a series of “career brochures” sent through email that satirically promotes the University of Michigan campus as a safe space for sexual predators.

The work responds to the U-M’s failure to protect victims from sexual predators on campus through a series of devastating alleged and confirmed offenses, including Dr. Robert Anderson‘s molestation of more than 950 people (mainly student athletes and chiefly male African American students), former Provost Martin Philbert‘s sexual harassment of graduate students and staff, Lecturer Bruce Conforth‘s manipulation and sexual abuse of female students, David Daniels’ solicitations of student sex, and Walter Lasecki‘s alleged sexual harassment of at least five students, among other offenders.

A common theme in these case is the university’s failure to sanction or fire the offender and their strategy of shuffling the predator into retirement or resignation without prosecution or sanctions. The Office of Institutional Equity (OIE)—now the Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX (ECRT)—has failed to properly investigate, to compare records across cases, and to find violations, and the Board of Regents has failed to hold administrators accountable. As a member of the Academic Affairs Advisory Committee (AAAC) that advises the provost, I had a front-row seat to Provost Philbert’s overseeing the sexual misconduct umbrella policy during which he defended OIE’s deplorable record and refused to consider alternative models, a defensiveness that continues with the current administration.

To be added to the email list, contact “”.

University of Michigan Sexual Misconduct Harassment Assault Philbert Conforth Anderson
University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel Hired an Alleged Sexual Predator as Provost in 2017 and will now Chair the 2022 Provost Search Committee.
University of Michigan Directors of OIE and ECRT

UM former Regent warns Schlissel about Philbert, 2017.
President Schlissel learns of 2005 litigation in summer of 2017 (p. 71).
Partial exhibits from the 2005 Kimorowski lawsuit.
Schlissel statement to the press denying knowledge, 2020.
• Nina Molina and Sammy Sussman, “Daily investigation finds divergence in U-M, outside organization’s handling of allegations against CSE professor,” The Michigan Daily, May 19, 2021
• George Weykamp and Nadir Al-Saidi, “Title IX lawsuit against UMich ECRT director alleging ‘deliberate indifference’ allowed to proceed,” The Michigan Daily, January 6, 2022
• Doe vs. University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Strickman
• University of Michigan, 2020 Annual Report Regarding Student Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct, July 2019-June 2020
• University of Michigan, 2019 Annual Report Regarding Student Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct, July 2018-June 2019
• Nisa Khan, “The Runaround: What it’s like to file a bias report at the University,” The Michigan Daily, April 17, 2018
• The Conforth survivors have spoken to OIE’s tactics for cherry-picking witnesses:
• The WilmerHale Report (Martin Philbert); Anthony Walesby’s role in failing to investigate Martin Philbert (Note: the WilmerHale report was commissioned by then-President Mark Schlissel in 2020 and, while it contains helpful information, it seems to carefully absolve all administrators from accountability.)
• Ken Denlinger, “Vermont Officials Criticized,” Washington Post, February 4, 2020
• Anemona Hartocollis, “University of Michigan Fires Its President Over Inappropriate Relationship,” The New York Times, January 16, 2022


Interview by Brainard Carey for Yale University Radio

Rebekah Modrak was recently interviewed by Brainard Carey for Yale University radio WYBCX. Modrak and Carey discussed her use of “watchdog”-style creative tactics that hold brands and institutions accountable. And they discussed the reception of her work by the unusual but ideal audience of Wieden+Kennedy New York, the advertising agency team that invited Modrak to speak about ethics, advertising, photography, Re Made Co., and RETHINK SHINOLA.

Brainard Carey has been interviewing artists and members of the art world since 2002 when he started writing for the Brooklyn Rail. He founded the interview series for Yale radio in 2010.

Link to interview:


Rebekah Modrak

Ethics and Advertising Talk at Wieden+Kennedy

Rebekah Modrak presented her work to the Wieden+Kennedy New York agency as part of a monthly guest series intended to broaden the per­spec­tive on adver­tis­ing and the respon­si­bil­i­ties of cul­tural pro­duc­ers.

Wieden+Kennedy is a full-ser­vice adver­tis­ing agency that offers brand mar­ket­ing, mar­ket­ing automa­tion, and more. The com­pany was founded in 1982 and has offices in eight cities, includ­ing Ams­ter­dam, Lon­don, New York, Tokyo, Shang­hai, Delhi, and São Paulo.

Modrak’s work as an artist and writer is at the inter­sec­tions of art, activism, crit­i­cal design, and cre­ative resis­tance to con­sumer cul­ture. Her pre­sen­ta­tion to Wieden+Kennedy focused on the ethics of representation in advertising through historical and contemporary examples and through Modrak’s cri­tique of the appro­pri­a­tion of man­ual labor (Best Made Co. / Re Made Co.) and the mar­ket­ing of the White sav­ior myth (Shi­nola / Rethink Shi­nola and Bougie Crap).

Stop Enabling Predators Panel

Rebekah Modrak co-organized and spoke at Stop Pro­tect­ing Preda­tors: Sur­vivors Speak Up,  a forum addressing U-M’s fail­ures in pre­vent­ing and respond­ing to sex­ual mis­con­duct on cam­pus. The event on Sat­ur­day, Novem­ber 13, from 11 am to 1 pm centered around two panels: The first featured six sur­vivors of sex­ual mis­con­duct at U-M (Isabelle Brourman, Maya Crosman, Katherine McMahan, Jon Vaughn, Tad DeLuca and Chuck Christian), coming together to share experiences and describe the fail­ures of the uni­ver­sity in pro­tect­ing vic­tims, in their own words. In the second panel,  Modrak and other pol­icy-advo­cates described U‑M’s cur­rent sex­ual mis­con­duct poli­cies and what changes should be made to pro­tect the U‑M com­mu­nity, and to cen­ter the voices of sur­vivors.  The Michi­gan Daily cov­ered the event.

A recording of the event is available on YouTube.

Additional information about these cases:

Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan lec­turer Bruce Con­forth was per­mit­ted to con­tinue teach­ing after a stu­dent filed a sex­ual harass­ment report in 2008. Eight years and seven vic­tims later, the Uni­ver­sity encour­aged Con­forth to retire, pre-empt­ing a full review into sev­eral new reports against him. Another sex­ual mis­con­duct case on U‑M’s cam­pus, involv­ing Dr. Robert Ander­son, may be the largest sex­ual vio­lence case in America’s his­tory with a reported 2100+ vic­tims; the Uni­ver­sity knew of the U‑M ath­letic doctor’s sex­ual mis­con­duct since the 1970s, but allowed Ander­son to work and abuse stu­dents until his retire­ment in 2003. There are addi­tional sto­ries of abuse beyond those of Con­forth and Ander­son. For, despite the Uni­ver­sity hail­ing them­selves as rad­i­cally improv­ing sex­ual mis­con­duct poli­cies, the admin­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to fail to pro­vide action­able pro­ce­dures to pro­tect vic­tims, pros­e­cute preda­tors, and pre­vent future mis­con­duct at U‑M.

Stern Fellow at Institute for the Humanities

Rebekah Modrak was selected as the Helmut F. Stern Faculty Fellow at the Institute for the Humanities for the 2021-22 academic year. The Institute promotes interdisciplinary research and discourse in the humanities and the arts. The central function of the institute is to form an intellectual community of faculty and graduate student fellows who spend an academic year in residence in the institute, pursuing their research and participating in a cross-disciplinary, weekly seminar.

Throughout the year, Rebekah is working with Italy-based collaborator and curator Marialaura Ghidini to create an extensive net-based artwork challenging the logic of current digital technologies that preference productivity and efficiency over our human nature to be complicated and contradictory. Titled UnProductiveSolutions (UnPro), the artwork presents as a “company” whose mission is to disrupt and challenge assumptions of existing technologies. UnPro will find form as a company website of imagined e-products. Ultimately, UnPro asks: what would technology look like if it supported our right to “complex personhood.” 


9/8/21 Humanities headshots

Radical Humility reprinted in Boston Review

Thrilled to share that the Boston Review has published an essay from the book Radical Humility: Essays on Ordinary Acts, (Rebekah Modrak and Jamie Vander Broek, editors). The essay “Against Persuasion” by Agnes Callard (Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Chicago) explores the value of being inquisitive and the collaborative nature of knowledge through Socrates’ conversations with other people who claimed to have knowledge. Radical Humility was published by Belt Publishing in March 2021. In the book, Callard’s essay appears as “Loving Knowledge Together: Socratic Humility.”

Radical Humility is a collection of essays by philosophers, artists, a lawyer, a journalist, a cook, a columnist, psychologists, educators, consumer culture and race scholars, and others about the value of humility, and the harms of arrogance, from personal, political, and institutional perspectives.