“This is the last time fashion content enters my work,” says K8 Hardy, who is, to date, best known for her zine, FashionFashion, as well as for related photographs in which the New York-based artist dresses up in humorous, mostly store-bought (“they aren’t made”), and then reassembled, outfits. “I don’t even like it all that much,” she says.
What Hardy does like is the absurdity of commercial offerings, and the ability of fashion to impact a popular audience. Ultimately, she goes far beyond the high gloss of sartorial aspiration, creat- ing a catalog of spontaneous, gestural, singular, and sometimes even gross images in which she poses but resists easy consumption. These include her wearing clown wigs in Chile, and sitting on a windowsill, legs splayed and soiled panties bared. As part of the Whitney Biennial, the 34-year-old Texas-born Hardy will present a new series of photographs that she likes to call an “abstract shoe campaign,” inspired by still-life editorials in which products obstruct or obscure the human form. “They’re just so fetishistic and hilarious,” she says. “It cracks me up—a model with five purses. It’s like candy.” Hardy may not like fashion, but she’s attuned to the codes of clothes. “As a young gay person, you start feeling the differences in what people wear, and, cruising, you start reading the little signs we send to each other,” she says.
Hardy remembers resisting the way power could be implemented through dress codes all the way back in high school. At 17, she was sent home for wearing a T-shirt that said, “I pledge allegiance to shit,” illustrated with a soldier saluting a coffin. “I wish I still had that fucking shirt,” she says. She will co-host a runway show at the Whitney with outfits she’s cobbled together over the past month. It’ll have music and more than 30 looks. “I even hope the runway show will go on fashion blogs,” she says. The only thing it won’t have is a front row.
ABOVE: K8 HARDY IN NEW YORK, JANUARY 2012. DRESS: FASTER BY MARK FAST. SNEAKERS: JEREMY SCOTT FOR ADIDAS. COSMETICS: M.A.C COSMETICS, INCLUDING STUDIO SCULPT SPF 15 FOUNDATION IN NC 15. HAIR PRODUCTS: BUMBLE AND BUMBLE INCLUDING EXTRA HOLDING SPRAY. HAIR AND MAKEUP: WESLEY O’MEARA/THE WALL GROUP. PROP STYLING: WHITNEY HELLESEN. SPECIAL THANKS: FAST ASHLEYS.