“All of us face days when it can seem like change is hard — days when our opposition and our own imperfections may tempt us to take an easier path that avoids our responsibilities to one another. But even when little sunlight shined into that Robben Island cell, he could see a better future — one worthy of sacrifice.” -President Barack Obama on Nelson Mandela
Archive for December, 2013
The eminent artist K8 Hardy presents Kate, a series of new sculptures and one “selfie” for her her third solo exhibition at Reena Spaulings Fine Art.
They are crap. Literally! Scrapped together from “flotsam” washed ashore at Fire Island, the sculptures are radically provisional, combining odd garbage with painted sticks of wood. They appear fragile, with an arbitrariness verging on accidental; they seem intentional only in their uprightness. Then again, a sign of tight control grounds the show at its physical center, in the form of a fist gripping driftwood.
But they also strike lively, fabulous, and humble poses like dancers or models, if we mean faceless dancers or models who can hardly stand and are missing limbs. Still, despite their decrepit depravity, these “precarious bodies” are survivors who exude a winning vulnerability. In fact, these “bodies” become “figures” when we pause to admire their adornment.
Visitors can join this cast of harried models by posing before K8’s eponymous, peach-tinted mirrors. As K8’s press release says, “Viewers can photograph and share their own reflections in the artists’ name: a narcissistic work for multiple selves, this sculpture holds its space in the gallery and in the cloud.” Post your #K8Hardygram!
On the wall directly across from that is Ur-Selfie, K8’s interpretation (and restating?) of Courbet’s The Origin of the World, a work of art that isn’t as social media friendly, because it can get you kicked off Facebook.
Is this K8’s departure from performance? In the recent past, her live events and performative photos rightly intensified her audience. But actually, these static objects do seem performative. It is performative to present as sculpture such found materials, especially those made from pollution. Here, K8 performs radical resourcefulness: an attitude materialized as practice; an outlook extruded as behavior.
More brilliant, however, is the way she channels those qualities into the sculptures. Indeed, as she writes, “These are works whose sense of belonging in the world can only be found in their struggle to show up here.”