K8 Hardy’s palette draws on the tropes of fashion advertising, combining some of its most recognizable modes—product close-ups, meticulous styling and staging, eye-catching colors—into an abstraction of the genre. Juxtaposing a variety of aesthetics from different spheres of fashion, her photographs and sculptures employ layering to confuse and undermine assumptions about race, class, economics, and gender; the photographs often incorporate multiple images superimposed onto one another or photograms added during the development process. Rather than simply poking fun at fashion and its commercialization, Hardy complicates our learned response to the conventions of advertising. She obscures any glimpse of the model (typically the artist herself), while drawing attention instead to the messages projected by a model’s physical features. In treating her own body as an object, Hardy upends a relatively recent yet deep history of women photographing themselves, itself a response to the millennia-old practice of male artists objectifying women as subjects of art.
On May 20, Hardy will stage a runway show, in following with a practice that has always been multifarious—ranging from photography, sculpture, and performance to the co-founding of LTTR, a feminist queer artists’ collective.