THIS WEEK on the GWA Podcast, we interview one of the most renowned photographers working in the world right now, Catherine Opie!
A photographer of portraits of people, landscapes, the urban environment and American society, Opie uses the tool of the camera to explore sexual and cultural identity. First picking up a camera aged nine, it was in the 1990s that she began to gain recognition for her studio portraits of gay and transgender communities who appear painterly and defiant, powerful and regal.
Travelling across the world, and in particular different areas of North America, Opie has documented masculinity through high school footballers; politics and culture through her images of the 2008 presidential election; the landscape through images of sparse urban environments; and memorial through images of house belongings once owned by Elizabeth Taylor. Linked by notions of complexity, community, visibility and empathy, Opie’s photographs tell a story about the society in which we live.
Speaking about her work she has said, “From early on, I wanted to create a language that showed how complex the idea of community really is, how we categorize who we are as human beings in relation to places we live.”
Born in Ohio, and now based in Los Angeles, where she is a professor of photography and the chair of the UCLA department of art, Opie has exhibited in the world’s most prestigious museums, from MOCA Los Angeles to the Guggenheim in New York, and at the Whitney Biennial and many more.
But the reason why we are speaking with Opie today is because this summer she opened a solo show at Thomas Dane Gallery in London – To What We Think We Remember. Taking its title from a Joan Didion quote, this exhibition focuses on community, collective responsibility and how to move forward while faced with the potentially devastating challenges of climate change, and the erasure of personal and political freedoms.
Thomas Dane show:
New York Times 2021: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/18/arts/design/catherine-opie-photography-monograph.html
Opie essay for CNN:
Hilton Als 2021:
New York Times 2019:
Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
Research assistant: Viva Ruggi
Sound editing by Nada Smiljanic
Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
Music by Ben Wetherfield
THIS EPISODE IS GENEROUSLY SUPPORTED BY CHRISTIES: www.christies.com