Posts Tagged ‘K8 Hardy’

I Wanna Be Adorned

Sunday, December 1st, 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.

K8 Hardy, "Kate," at Reena Spaulings Fine Art, 2013 (Image via the artist)

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.

K8 Hardy, "Earth First," 2013

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.

K8 Hardy, "Sister Spit," 2013 (with detail)

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.”

K8 Hardy, "Pollution Stinks," 2013

 

Pose a Strike!

Friday, July 10th, 2009
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Claude Cahun
“Under this mask, another mask. I will never finish removing all these faces.” –Claude Cahun
Activist, publisher, photographer, video artist, performer, organizer, muse, stylist, artist epicenter, model: K8 Hardy has worn many hats.  And wigs and unitards.
Fittingly, her show at Reena Spaulings Fine Art includes about 30 photos of herself in some kind of drag. The photos are self-portraits, in theory: the artist has turned the camera toward herself and made conscious decisions about how her image will be captured.
Except that from beginning to end, we lose a sense of her “self” in the freedom march of potential other “selves,” which we know can’t really be authentic “selves” because they are temporary, fleeting masquerades – each just the interim between the others – and not the steady core that we elevate as the “real self.”  Will the real K8 Hardy please stand up?
No.
But there’s this platform in the middle of the gallery.  You can stand there for all to see.
So maybe they are more like “documentary.”  After all, the acquisition of vintage, thrift, and obscure garments – enough to dress the Halloween Parade – is a lifelong, unrelenting compulsion.  To pose in her clothes is not just about working a look; it’s about  the clothes indexing the ever-expanding collection; it’s about pointing to a decade-long hunting trip by sharing its prizes.
But if you want to be materialistic, maybe you could say that they are still-life photos.  After all, the garments are arranged into outfits, which implies calculation, coordination, and set-up; and not a random sampling of her closet.
“invent her own position as subject and elaborate her own set of images – different from the image of the exposed female body, yet as empowering as that image is…for her male colleagues.”
Proudly carrying the flag of feminist heritage, K8 wrestles with the volatile, indeterminate conditions of gender and identity.  In many of the photos, gender is debatable, or even incidental.  Instead, we get tangled in the layers of culturally coded clothing.  “What is that trying to say?” might precede “Who is that person?”  Just like seeing somebody in a Star Trek spacesuit or Ninja ghi.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKvjZUAPve4

“Under this mask, another mask. I will never finish removing all these faces.” –Claude Cahun

K8 Hardy at Reena Spaulings
Disheveled, shelved: K8 Hardy at Reena Spaulings

Activist, publisher, photographer, video artist, performer, organizer, muse, stylist, artist epicenter, mud wrestler, concert promoter, model: K8 Hardy has worn many hats.  And wigs and unitards.

Fittingly, her show at Reena Spaulings Fine Art refers to her autobiographical past and her conceptual current in its title: To All the G#%$! I’ve Loved Before.

Her first solo show in NYC, and closing tomorrow, the show includes sculptures, publication, and primarily, about 30 photos of herself in some kind of drag.

K8 or Dye
K8 or Dye

The photos are documentary/ self-portraits, in theory:

“Documentary,” in that the acquisition of vintage, thrift, and obscure garments – enough to dress the Halloween Parade – is a lifelong, unrelenting compulsion, so costumed K8 is not just about working a look; it’s about indexing a decade-long hunting trip by sharing its ever-expanding chest of prizes.

“Self-portrait,” in that the artist has turned the camera toward herself and made conscious decisions about how her image will be captured.

Except that from beginning to end, we lose a sense of her “self” in the freedom march of potential other “selves,” which we know are anything but that, because they are temporary, fleeting masquerades – each just the interim between the others – and not the immobile core that we try to excavate as the “real self.”  In fact, some photoes keep you on your four toes by substituting another model in lieu of K8.  Does K8 matter?  Will the real K8 Hardy please stand up?

Flashback from Jonah Freeman & Justin Lowe

No, she refuses.

But there’s this platform in the middle of the gallery.  You can stand up high for all to see!  Please hurry; the show ends tomorrow!

Jack Pierson,
Jack Pierson,

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Rosalind Krauss invokes Susan Suleiman while writing about Claude Cahun, who could be K8’s great-grandma in art lineage. (Cindy Sherman could be her Mom and Leigh Bowery her other Mom.)  Suleiman called for a pioneering woman artist who would:

“invent her own position as subject and elaborate her own set of images – different from the image of the exposed female body, yet as empowering as that image is, with its endless potential for manipulation, disarticulation, and rearticulation, fantasizing and projection, for her male colleagues.”

Maybe that’s who the stage is for, which K8 has installed in the gallery?  “We are not sure if or how it will be used,” cautions her press release.

Proto-K8, Claude Cahun
Proto-K8, Claude Cahun

Of course, Claude Cahun went further by changing her name to that of an imaginary Jewish man, despite the rampant anti-semitism soiling France.  Kate’s name is less ethnic and more adjective.  To follow Cahun, she would need to take on a fearsome, alarming, or unsettling name.  K8 Hussein.  Or K8 Bush.

Still, she proudly bears the pageant sash of feminist heritage, because K8 screams “Vive la résistance” as she wrestles with the volatile, indeterminate conditions of gender and identity.  In many of the photos, gender is debatable, or even incidental.  Instead, we get tangled in the layers of culturally coded clothing.  “What is that trying to say?” might precede “Who is that person?”  Something weird happens when “the look” smothers its wearer.  Essence precedes existence.

Gerhard Richter, Onkel Rudi, 1965
Gerhard Richter, Onkel Rudi, 1965

But then K8 the author leaps into the spotlight with her subjective ray-0-gram interventions of sunglasses, a lace bra, and a defiant middle finger.  K8 reminds us that while actor, crew, and location all coalesce into a cast of androgynous, flamboyant extras, the artist is still the director.

Dan Graham, Figurative, 1965
Ray O' Gram: Dan Graham, Figurative, 1965