K8 Hardy in Conversation: Review

K8 Hardy. Outfitumentary. K8 Hardy. Outfitumentary.

POP Symposium united K8 Hardy, pioneer in queer inter-media arts, with Rebecca Duclos, Concordia’s Dean of Fine Arts for a guided discussion. The audience saw an effective dynamic between the academician and K8 Hardy’s extreme quirkiness. She is indeed eccentric.

The talk begins with an introduction of Outfitumentary, a decade long shoot of outfits beginning in 2001. It is a chronological arrangement of snapshots that include conversation fragments, blurred music, changing spaces, roommates, and sprawling studios. The project evolved into artwork, beginning as one of archiving. K8 says, “I thought to myself, I’d like to see this in 50 years…For posterity, I thought it would be interesting…And it is.” Appreciative audience laughter follows. Duclos asks whether the editing process proved difficult. Excess of self aside, and the six hours of raw footage, K8 admitted it was hard to be objective about a work that requires so much self involvement. “But I wanted to do it because, at the time, it really felt like one should not.”

The fact is, K8 was compiling a fashion blog before the virtual means for this existed. She has been called the inventor of the selfie. Duclos suggested that the playful posing in the film is a way of repossessing a territory in the fashion world dominated by normative bodies and by one sexuality. K8 explained the strategic aspect of style, saying that before the internet, one used a queer code of dressing. Duclos asks, “Have the codes changed?” K8 answers, “Um…Well, people are still dressing the way I was ten years ago.” Duclos continues, “Is there a relevant context for this work?” K8 responds, “I’m trying to get it in the film fest circuit, because I want to have a long life in cinemas. I wasn’t sure if the experimental film world was going to let me in. I want it to be a cult classic.
More audience laughter.

Since the work evidences that there was a need to display, perform, and observe one’s identity before technology made this abundant and easy, the work is a testimony to a technological shift and may very well be of great interest to the study of precursory self-representation in an absurdly laden media fed and consumer driven society.

Duclos: Where does this work live?
K8: It’s pre-YouTube so I know there will be an interest. I’m struggling to figure it out. I live in New York and have a gallery, so I know that seems… hand gesture
Duclos: Corrupted?
K8: I haven’t had the solo shows or museum exhibits. In the fine art world, Outfitumentary is something that would have a different type of life.

Based on commentary from the audience, there is definitely a place for it as a response to patriarchy, specifically to the modeling industry that these patriarchy creates. A member in the audience suggested that in this way, the film is full of action.

Duclos calls the film “humorous in a Canadian way, or parodic, irony being our choice of humor.” K8 says this is unintended, that she was interested in creating platforms representative and inciting of queer culture.

Duclos: You parody the models who are part of the patriarchal system. I see it as a re-appropriation, what with the thrifted clothes, the crazy studios.
K8: I think of myself as a drag queen. But I try not to say that out loud.

K8 Hardy’s Outfitumentary screened at Cinema J.A. Seve at Concordia University (1455 Maisonneuve W.) September 18 as part of POP Montreal.