Re:mix. Re:make. Re:configure. Re:consider. REBAR is an art and design collective based in San Francisco. Rebar’s work ranges broadly in scale, scope and context, and therefore belies discrete categorization. It is, at minimum, situated in the domains of environmental installation, urbanism and absurdity.
Rebar was formed in 2004 to design and construct the Cabinet National Library - a functioning library built out of a file cabinet in the middle of the New Mexico desert. The Cabinet National Library, as the name might imply, is the national library for Cabinet magazine, a non-profit arts & culture quarterly based in Brooklyn. Rebar was founded by Matthew Passmore, John Bela, Jed Olson and Judson Holt, all of whom built the library.
Rebar’s work is fundamentally motivated by the desire to animate the arbitrariness of what French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu calls the doxa: the uncontested acceptance of the daily life-world and the adherence to a set of social relations we take to be self evident. Rebar’s projects are intended to engage social, ecological and cultural processes as they unfold materially in space and time.
One way to approach Rebar's work is to compare it to the methods of sampling and remixing used by DJ's. Much like a DJ samples recorded sounds, Rebar's work appropriates elements of the physical/cultural world and remixes them into novel contexts. By “remixing the landscape” in this way, Rebar exposes new meanings and alters assumptions about our shared environment.
In addition to harvesting the creative energy of its four founders, Rebar considers itself to be an open forum for outlandish ideas. Rebar invites critique and promotes collaboration. To create a typical Rebar project, an ad hoc group of conspirators will coalesce around a concept to manifest a concrete reality. Membership and affiliation with Rebar is fluid, and evolves as projects are developed and deployed.
While Rebar’s work can be used or interpreted as playful, ridiculous, or absurd, it is also highly functional. Rebar remixes the ordinary, repurposes the ubiquitous, and rebuilds with invisible structural material . . . much like rebar itself.