New London show ‘Hardcore’ probes the power dynamics of desire

At Sadie Coles HQ, London, the provocative exhibition ‘Hardcore’ is a bold, explicit exploration of carnal desires and intimacy

Elaine Cameron-Weir hardcore
Elaine Cameron-Weir, hairshirt with lucky cilice SS 23 cartoon violence collection, 2023
(Image credit: Elaine Cameron-Weir)

‘Hardcore’, at Sadie Coles HQ is a new group exhibition of 18 artists, homing in on the power dynamics of sex, the wide-ranging nature of intimacy, and our personal and social response to it. 

Curated by Sadie Coles and John O’Doherty and on view until 5 August 2023, the London art exhibition shatters the status quo and explores how, amid the noise of cancel culture, discussions around complex and more nuanced sexuality have been quietened. The artistic voices in this show are nothing of the sort; they are loud, brazen, and unapologetically test the parameters of the human experience, keep questions open, and penetrate distinctive psychological experiences of intimacy through creativity. 

Tishan Hsu, Download Double Interface - Green, 2023

Tishan Hsu, Download Double Interface - Green, 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Empty Gallery, Hong Kong

(Image credit: Katie Morrison/ Sadie Coles HQ)

As Reba Maybury describes in an essay to accompany the show, ‘This exhibition has no straight lines and sex is never identical, it is always unique. To make work from the position of a subjective sexuality is not easy. It takes a hardcore to swerve the inevitable variations of sensation that others choose to project upon these artists. Choosing to create from this place could be considered a vulnerable decision but vulnerability is, after all, the ultimate power.’

The artists featured in the show are Darja Bajagić, Monica Bonvicini, Miriam Cahn, Elaine Cameron-Weir, King Cobra (documented as Doreen Lynette Garner), Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose, Maryam Hoseini, Tishan Hsu, Stanislava Kovalcikova, Bruce LaBruce, Tayeba Begum Lipi, Monica Majoli, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Carolee Schneemann, Joan Semmel, Cindy Sherman and Andra Ursuţa.

Joan Semmel For Foot Fetishists 1977

Joan Semmel, For Foot Fetishists, 1977

(Image credit: Copyright: 2023 Joan Semmel/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York)

To coincide with ‘Hardcore’, Sadie Coles HQ has collaborated with Climax Books, to curate a presentation of artist books and cultural ephemera in response to the show. Founded by Isabella Burley in 2020, Climax Books is a London-based distributor specialing in rare ephemera, periodicals, erotica, VHS tapes, anthologies and books on art, photography and counterculture. The collection will be displayed on the ground floor at 62 Kingly Street for the duration of ‘Hardcore’, with all items available to buy. 

Carolee Schneemann Vulva's Morphia 1995

Carolee Schneemann, Vulva's Morphia ,1995

(Image credit: Courtesy of the Carolee Schneemann Foundation, Hales Gallery, and P·P·O·W, New York)

'Hardcore' is on view at Sadie Coles HQ, 62 Kingly Street W1, until 5 August 2023.

Harriet Lloyd-Smith was the Arts Editor of Wallpaper*, responsible for the art pages across digital and print, including profiles, exhibition reviews, and contemporary art collaborations. She started at Wallpaper* in 2017 and has written for leading contemporary art publications, auction houses and arts charities, and lectured on review writing and art journalism. When she’s not writing about art, she’s making her own.