To All the G#%$! I’ve Loved Before
K8 Hardy has been organizing performances (Beautiful Radiating Energy, 2004, New
Report (with Wynne Greenwood), 2006, Bare Life (with Stefan Tcherepnin), 2008),
circulating publications (fashionfashion, LTTR), and rethinking this gallery and its uses
(WOM_NHOUSE, 2004) from the start. Reena Spaulings now presents To All the G#%$!
I’ve Loved Before, Hardy’s first solo exhibition in New York.
A new series of photographic self-portraits displays the artist as a rampant multiplicity of
identities, as an ongoing series of posed or proposed selves. Playing on the codes of both
queer and hetero-normative cultures, Hardy tests and wastes them all as she feeds her
pose machine with other looks and meanings. Sometimes using her sister Halie as a
stand-in self, Hardy displaces subjectivity across a sequence of gay cruising clichés and
camp possibilities, refusing to settle into any final or agreed upon condition. She
sometimes adds layers of artifice in the darkroom, throwing a bra or a middle finger
under the enlarger before exposing the print. These photograms both embellish and blank
out her image.
In the center of the gallery, Hardy has installed a “stage”. We are not sure if or how it
will be used. A wooden “trough” has been stocked with an earlier (2008) series of selfportraits.
The artist populates the exhibition with styled and altered mannequin heads,
ideal viewers of the Hardy image.
Known for her activism within the new feminist, gay and transgender movements, Hardy
brings a punk sensibility to these causes and contexts. In politics as in art, the enemies are
self-righteousness, conformism, comfort, complacency and barren professionalism.
Subjectivities want to explode, and Hardy is our model monster. The self-portrait is an
opportunity for chaos, a chance at the self-destroying commodity. Hardy’s work
sometimes recalls Cindy Sherman’s “film stills,” but there is nothing still here, always
trans...a feeling closer to Leigh Bowery. Susan Sontag, Judith Butler, bla bla bla
K8 Hardy hails from Texas. She studied at the Whitney Independent Study Program and
in the Bard College M.F.A. program. She is co-editor (with Ginger Brooks Takahashi,
Ulrike Müller and Emily Roysdon) of LTTR. Works in collaboration with Wynne
Greenwood are currently on view at the Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art. She
has also exhibited at the Tate Modern.