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Ariana Reines and K8 Hardy in conversation


Originally published by Bomb in 2012, this interview brings together poet Ariana Reines and artist K8 Hardy, for a feminist tour de force. In partial below, the full interview via Bomb.

AR This strange combination of intimacy and extroversion is your work’s power. In contrast with the Internet’s extreme openness, there’s a self-selecting privacy to making a zine on paper. I’m thinking of the limited circulation of your classic Fashionfashion zine from the ’90s, for example, or Frank Peter John Dick, your gorgeous new book of collages—if I had my way it’d be distributed to every teenager in existence as suicide prevention propaganda.

KH Thank you. When I made my first zine, LTTR, there weren’t blogs everywhere, so it didn’t seem like its production was about privacy at all. I haven’t made a zine in years. I do currently feel inhibited on social media. I could tell you why I want to protect myself, but I don’t want it in print. That sounds a little bit paranoid, but—

AR I have a similar feeling. Wait, I just interrupted you. We’re both scorpios, which means we are both private to the point of paranoia and extremely extroverted. A huge part of your photographs’ power comes from the polarity between a performative intensity and something mysterious and secret that seems to be the origin of it all.

KH Yeah, maybe so. Part of the power of the photographs is about control, about deciding exactly when to reveal something. I have a tendency to open myself up and reveal myself in my work. You know, you’re a writer, so you’re sharing yourself with people in your writing. It’s a generous act and sometimes you have to protect yourself.

AR Technologically there are multiple ways to exteriorize what you’ve made. But then, according to Paul Virilio, the more devices we have, the more prostheses, the more our bodies become immobilized. I go through phases of feeling utterly paralyzed by all of the ways that I could turn whatever’s passing through me into a transmittable—if immaterial—thing.

KH Hmm, yes. Prostheses and defecation.

AR Sorry, I’m still absorbing the caffeine and getting over my hangover . . . I imagine some kind of existence with the Internet that’d be like Jason Rhoades’s Black Pussy show. Did you ever see it?

KH A TV show?

AR No, an art show.

KH That’s stupid! This is like, “The Morning Brain.” A TV show called Black Pussy!

AR Yeah. (laughter) The Rhoades installation was this giant cavern with what seemed a lifetime’s worth of flotsam. It was wildly inclusive and yet obsessively specific and arranged, blasting taste and chaos in this total archive fever. Your work blends theoretical confrontation with a hilarious mashup of totems, taboos, and fleeting ultradork directness. It always feels so fresh and immediate to me. Even the work from ten years ago.

KH I feel hesitant on the Internet because of the archiving. And also because of the contracts on Twitter or Facebook—they own everything you put up there. They have the right to license it, which freaks me out. Back when you could first Google people, I had a photo in a group show and this guy came with his digital camera, took a picture of my print on the wall, and posted it on the Internet. And he wouldn’t take it down. It was shocking! I would have never put that photo on the web. I felt so violated; it’s still one of the first images that comes up if you Google my name. That has shaped what I’ve put up and how I’ve shared with people.

AR I can relate. There’s a poem I wrote in high school that this library put up. I begged them to take it down, but this vicious librarian wrote back saying that I was trying to distort the public record. But who does the record serve? I guess the idea of a document’s authority is worth getting over, but—

KH Yeah. It’s part of the reason that I don’t perform anymore.

AR Really? That’s heartbreaking to me.

KH It’s not the only reason, though. I want performance to be a place where I can experiment. I remember performing a few years ago and looking out into a sea of cell phones in the air. I felt so disconnected. There’s a video of me drunk, singing karaoke terribly, and other shit like that online that I don’t even know who put up. It’s kind of hard for me to deal with.