Beginning in 2001, artist K8 Hardy decided that someone should chronicle the daily fashion combinations of a radical lesbian such as herself, to preserve the culture for posterity. Armed with a Mini-DV camera, she recorded a full-body image of herself consistently for 11 years, until the camera went kaput. The results, in chronological order, are Outfitumentary, a film that debuted at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and screened at MoMA before coming to FIT on March 8, to coincide with International Women’s Day.
The Film and Media program, with support from the Diversity Council and the Student-Faculty Corporation, presented the movie as part of its monthly screening series. Hardy, looking glamorous in polka-dot pants, a scarf with an abstracted ant print, and blue shades, sat down with Associate Professor Michelle Handelman afterward to discuss the film’s conception, lightning-fast editing process, and structuralist nature.
The project may have been intended as a simple visual account—and, in fact, Hardy only edited it into a film after witnessing the rise of selfie culture in 2014—but over the 82 minutes of rapid-fire video snapshots, patterns and stories emerge. Music is almost always playing in the background; here and there Hardy pulls off a quick improv dance; her hair goes through a range of punk styles; she exposes and covers her body; and the setting changes as she moves to different apartments or studios. These shreds of information hint at important yet elusive transformations.
“There’s so little information that the viewer can actively write their own story as it goes along,” Hardy said. “The story around the edges keeps people going.”
“It’s casual and it’s punk and it’s in your face, and in some ways it’s leading people to nowhere,” Handelman said. “You start to think about what makes a person’s life.”