Curating the Contemporary Interview

On April 24, Curating the Contemporary’s Miriam La Rosa spoke to curators Marialaura Ghidini and Rebekah Modrak about their project #exstrange, an online exhibition space that uses eBay as a site for artistic and curatorial practice.

Curating the Contemporary (CtC) is a meeting place for discussions on contemporary art and its practices. It functions as a platform and resource for an international community of artists, curators, museologists and other specialists, sharing diverse perspectives in the format of exhibition reviews, interviews, previews, special features, academic pieces and creative texts.

CtC was established in October 2013 and has since grown as an experimental publisher, through the collaboration with different contributors and institutions. The interview begins …

“Miriam La Rosa: Let’s begin with a very basic question: why did you choose the hashtag #exstrange to name this project?

Marialaura Ghidini: #exstrange comes from a shortening of the title Rebekah and I gave to the project at the beginning of our discussions, Exchange with Stranger. With the hashtag, we wanted to suggest the idea of the online content search, and refer to the hashtag archives that are so entrenched in the culture of social media. Because the project relies so much on categories and the way goods are ‘catalogued’ for consumption—the whole eBay business is based on this—we wanted to propose our own category; one that is open to forming unexpected relationships, that breaks with the definitions implied by a commercial index, and that proposes a different way of making and engaging with art.

Rebekah Modrak: The idea of the ‘Stranger’ came from our desire for artists and designers to engage with eBay communities. Georg Simmel described the ‘stranger’ as someone who enters into a community with the ability to perceive entrenched dynamics with new eyes, and our initial discussions for the project recognised that artists and designers could enact this role within eBay’s categories. At the same time, we envisioned that bidders and browsers would also serve as ‘strangers,’ confronting and commenting on art experiences.”


In conversation with… #exstrange

In conversation with… #exstrange

Miriam La Rosa talks to curators Marialaura Ghidini and Rebekah Modrak about their  project #exstrange, an online exhibition space that uses eBay as a site for artistic and curatorial practice.  Mi…


Visiting Artist Lecture at Alfred University

Rebekah Modrak recently spoke at Alfred University about her work and the exhibition, A Day’s Work.

Rebekah’s installation at the Cohen Gallery, Re Made Co., is a multimedia intervention satirizing the brand narrative of Best Made Co., a New York City-based company that sells painted axes using calculated associations with manual labor. Evolving since 2013, Re Made Co. works across genres to introduce a critical discourse into passive consumption.

#exstrange Featured in VICE Creator Project

#exstrange, the eBay-based curatorial project by Rebekah Modrak and Marialaura Ghidini, was recently featured in an article by Catherine Chapman for VICE’s Creators Project.

“When eBay went public in the late 90s, its sale of products online completely changed what we knew about shopping and doing business, taking the consumer away from the storefront and any face-to-face communication. Now, curator Marialaura Ghidini and artist Rebekah Modrak are reversing that, using one of the internet’s largest auction sites to reconsider our transactions of art with the project #exstrange.

‘eBay was used to disrupt this idea of commerce in the real world,’ Ghidini tells Creators. ‘The one-to-one relationship became independent from any other commercial system. Using eBay, we wanted to substitute this one-to-one relationship and rethink how we consume things online.’ #exstrange is a two-month-long live art exhibit in which the pieces are completely curated, seen, and sold through eBay, changing the relationship between the artist and buyer.”

Move Over, Ebay, #exstrange Is Bringing Online Art Auctions Back to the People | VICE: The Creators Project

‘A Day’s Work’ at Cohen Gallery

Rebekah Modrak and Nick Tobier present the exhibition “A Day’s Work,” on display March 1 – April 1 at Alfred University School of Art & Design’s Cohen Gallery. The exhibit features distinct but related bodies of work that serve to challenge viewers’ social expectations. “A Day’s Work” opens March 1 from 6-8pm, with a closing reception on April 1 from 6-8pm.

Rebekah’s installation, Re Made Co., is a multimedia artistic intervention satirizing the brand narrative of a New York City-based company that sells painted axes and a range of “outdoor” consumer products using calculated and false associations with manual labor. Evolving since its launch in July 2013, Re Made Co. works across genres to challenge the values of design practice, and to introduce a critical discourse into passive consumption.

Nick will conduct performances in the gallery and in the community during the month of March. He will present, Marvelous Guests, which lends new working conditions and meanings to several trades by inviting professionals to conduct their business in unusual locations. As a guest. Each encounter will produce its own forms of communication on location. We see the relationship between guest and host as dynamic, and not without friction as each adjusts to the other.

A Day’s Work
Exhibition Dates: March 1 – April 1, 2017
Exhibition opens March 1, 6 – 8 pm; Closing reception on April 1 at 6 – 8 pm

Cohen Gallery, Alfred University School of Art & Design
55 North Main Street, Alfred, New York 14802

Rebekah Modrak Presents Talk at Srishti Institute of Art, Design, and Technology

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.

Rebekah Modrak Quoted in WIRED Magazine

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

Artist in Residence at CEMA, Bangalore, India

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 Project Accepted for Project Anywhere

#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: Visiting Artist at Virginia Tech

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.

Rebekah Modrak Speaks at Wayne State University

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.