On May 20th, the multimedia performance artist, K8 Hardy, probably best known for her zine FashionFashion, put on her Untitled Runway Show at the Whitney Museum in New York. Hardy put together over thirty looks as part of her exhibition for the 2012 Biennial. The exhibition piece had all the makings of any standard runway show, makeup by James Kaliardos, hair by Bumble and Bumble, and top models from IMG and Ford, but rather than showing off her design skills, Hardy wanted the show to be a commentary and open up a dialogue with her audience about commercialism and the fashion industries impact on the way women are perceived in society. Models walked across an architectural runway made of wood and steel by fellow Biennial artist, Oscar Tuazon. Each model walked down the runway differently, according to Hardy’s specific instructions, all to high-energy reggaeton beats mixed with Neutrogena ads and nail art tutorials. Some feigned limps and walked backwards, while others pliéd and leaped down the runway, one model even tumbled down a set of ten-foot stairs. Each model wore face paint with huge, teased wigs and outfits reworked from vintage and thrift store items. Hardy said of creating the looks, “I went to a lot of thrift stores. It was a weird process because I didn’t have an idea of what I wanted it to look like, or an aesthetic that I was trying to present. I just knew what kind of materials I wanted to use, and that I wanted to choose a combination of garments that were cultural commentary. I started styling them together in my studio and then began to cut things apart and sew them back together.” The resulting collection by the Texan artist provides a commentary on the commercialization and excessive fabrication of clothing. Hardy said, “I approach fashion as an opportunity to express oneself and to challenge what is considered appropriate or attractive.” This sentiment is reaffirmed by Hardy’s photography in the Whitney Biennial exhibit, which subverts viewers expectations of both fashion and advertising.
-Emily Kirkpatrick for The Untitled Magazine