K8 Hardy (USA, b. 1977) is a New York based artist represented by Reena Spaulings Fine Art in New York, and Balice Hertling in Paris. She holds a BA from Smith College, studied at the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program, and holds an MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School for the Arts at Bard College.
Hardy is a founding member of the queer feminist journal and artist collective LTTR, and has directed music videos for groups including Le Tigre, Lesbians on Ecstasy, and Men. Her work is included in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, and has been exhibited and performed internationally at venues including, MoMA PS1 (New York NY), Artists Space (New York, NY), The Tate Modern (London, UK) and Galerie Sonja Junkers (Munich, Germany) among many others.
Hardy works through performance art without allegiance to any particular medium. She mines pop culture for material and eschews craft based virtuosity in photography, sculpture, and video. Hardy believes in the power of flamboyant and bold gestures, and in conversations of play, which constitute her endeavors toward total expression.
Early life and education
Hardy was born on October 27, 1977 in Fort Worth, Texas, and began spelling her name K8 as a teenager while working on, and publishing various zines. She attended Smith College, in Northampton, MA, where she studied film, alongside feminist and queer theory. Through the Five College Consorstium she studied video with Elisabeth Surbin. During this time, she received a grant to work with Miranda July and the Northwest Film Center in Portland, Oregon. Upon graduating from Smith College in 2000, Hardy moved to New York City and began working as a stylist for clients including Fischerspooner. In the following years, she studied at the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program, and in 2008 received an MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School for the Arts at Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.
TV Lip Synch (2002)
Hardy collaborated with Wynne Greenwood in the making of TV Lip Synch, a video in which the two artists lip sync to various daytime-television clips including scenes from Oprah, a soap opera, and a Barbara Walters interview, all programs marketed towards women.
Beautiful Radiating Energy (2004)
Beautiful Radiating Energy is a performance piece in which Hardy, dressed all in white, makes gymnastic contortions in front of a projected video while shouting “I am happy; I am here; I am hurt. I’m ready!” in a variety of ranges that require a month of vocal training. The video projected includes images of Hardy's friend Math walking away from the camera, found footage of reactions to the burial of Baader-Meinhof terrorists, gay rights parades, and body building competitions. (Wang, 104)
New Report (2005–2007)
Hardy and Wynne Greenwood play "Henry Stein-Acker-Hill" and "Henry Irigaray", fictional news reporters for the fictional news station WKRH, whose tagline is "pregnant with information". Their names are references to feminist theorists Luce Irigaray, Edith Stein, Joan Acker and Patricia Hill Collins. As Wynne Greenwood sometimes works under the name Wynne Ryan, WKRH is an acronym for Wynne K8 Ryan Hardy. The two, clad in berets, trench coats, and turtlenecks, report on news such as bra burning and running water and interview a friend suffering from anxiety. The press release states, "If traditional activist video was invested in the communication of clear messages to a target audience, the work makes politics by making television speak differently as it addresses the emergent qualities of a community for whom visibility is less a goal than a means of dismantling dominant images... If the revolution will be televised today it is only by queering TV in order to encounter the desires of the subjects and histories it addresses."
In 2007, Hardy and Greenwood performed New Report Live at the Tate Modern in London. Their report focused on the multiple meanings of power and they dubbed the Tate the “structure of power”. Other forms of power discussed were colonialism, slavery, capitalism, and the war in Iraq. “The artists invaded and occupied an iconic structure of power, symbolic of omnipresent patriarchal structures of power within the art world and society at large” (Dickinson, 5).
Bare Life (2007)
In this performance project with musician and sound artist Stefan Tcherepnin, the two respond to Giorgio Agamben’s concept of “Bare Life” (White, 20).
Hair Der Kunst (2009)
Begun in 2009, Hair der kunst is the collective brainchild of K8 Hardy and NYC hair stylist Shaun SureThing for Seagull Salon. Drawing from inspirations such as Vidal Sassoon structure, Bauhaus and Brutalist architecture, Hair der kunst is a study in the movement of hair, the theoretical movements of architectural structure and the moments, un-captured, between the stillness of a haircut and its documentation.
Position Series (2009–)
Position Series is a group of photographs which employ the tropes of self-portraiture and abstract photography.
- Burton, Johanna (August 2005). "Girl, Interrupted". Artforum: 107–108. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
- Dickinson, Amy (December 2007). "New Team Under An Old Threat, Fictional Selves and Feminist Practice in the Collaborative Work of Wynne Greenwood and K8 Hardy". Art Lies (56). Retrieved 2008-10-06.
- Cotter, Holland (May 20, 2005). "Wynne Greenwood and K8 Hardy". The New York Times.
- Maddison, Melanie (2008-07-19). "k8 Hardy Interview". Coloring Outside The Lines Zine. Retrieved 2008-10-06.[dead link]
- Mouffe, Chantal (August 2007). "Artistic Activism and Agonistic Spaces". Art & Research 1 (2). Retrieved 2008-10-07.
- "New Report" (Press release). Reena Spaulings Fine Art. 2005-05-07-2005-06-05. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
- Wang, Michael (June 2007). "Streaming Creature A New Generation of Queer Video Art". Modern Painters: 101–105.
- White, Michelle (May–June 2008). "Opposition + Equivocation: K8 Hardy". Art Papers: 19–23.
- K8 Hardy on Vice Art Talk
- LTTR Homepage
- K8 Hardy's Youtube Channel
- Playing Dress Up For Keeps - New York Times
- "New Report with Wyenne Greenwood @ ARTE Creative"