Re Made Co. is a web-based artwork that appears to be a company selling $350 hand-painted toilet plungers. The work satirizes the brand narrative of Best Made Co., a New York City-based company that sells $350 designer axes. Re Made’s sustained and evolving parody—involving company website, product portfolio, catalogs, social media, and product review—satirizes Best Made’s hijacking the tools of manual labor as trophies of “work” for an affluent, white-collar consumer base. The work reveals and critiques Best Made Co. themes that glorify white masculinity, aggression, the desire to conquer nature, and the glorification of America’s pioneer past.
The Re Made Co. work has multiple parts, including:
RE MADE BRAND VIDEO
Best Made’s “American Felling Axe” brand video presents Best Made founder Peter Buchanan-Smith describing the axe as “embedded in our DNA” and “a tool that builds America.” The video’s images and rhetoric provide a complex inventory of masculinity, from manly competence and conquest, and a commentary on the positioning of “craft” and “design” as tools to elevate the elite. The Re Made “American Master Plunger” brand video (here, side-by-side with the original) applies Buchanan-Smith’s words to the artisanal plunger.
RE MADE SOCIAL MEDIA
The Re Made Co. Facebook page provides an opportunity for further study of Best Made’s archive of images, to deepen the parody, and to extend the boundaries of the work by allowing response from browsers. The hundreds of Re Made Co. Facebook images start to reveal categories, characters, and stylistic approaches in Best Made’s brand messaging.
RE MADE NEWS PARODIES
Re Made Co. recreates published reviews of the Best Made store and products by newspapers such as The New York Times, with minor substitutions, such as “plunger” for “axe.” These re-created articles use the authoritative language of the mainstream media to critique their failures— the celebration of white upper-middle-class men sharpening their axes, without any discussion of race, class, gender, or the cultural appropriation of labor. These stories are available within the “Our Story” page of the Re Made website.
RE MADE ADVENTURES
Best Made has posted a series of “Adventures,” starring products such as the $188 Work Shirt. In their “Summer in Hoisingon, Kansas” adventure, Best Made photographed farmers and oil drillers, splattered in mud and oil, and dressed in the Work Shirt, alongside scenes of founder Peter Buchanan-Smith hanging out in local settings. To create the Re Made Co. “Adventure,” local farmers and well drillers in Hamilton County, Nebraska collaboratively restaged the Best Made Kansas Adventure in order to critique Best Made’s Plain State’s romanticism.
THE LAW and FAIR USE
Eight months after Re Made Co.’s launch, Best Made Co.’s lawyers sent a cease and desist letter claiming that I had stolen Best Made’s “work.” Attorneys from the University of Michigan’s Office of General Counsel championed the Re Made artwork and my first amendment rights. Their support and the protection of Fair Use enabled the work to stay online. If Re Made Co. itself points to the economic and social contradictions that lie beneath Best Made Co.’s branding, the cease and desist document humorously re-creates this work (extensively comparing axes and plungers) and overtly displays the aggression that’s at the heart of Best Made. The cease and desist document is only viewable on this website.
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