Image by Catherine Opie: Amy, 1996
Press Release: "Gladstone Gallery is pleased to announce an
exhibition of never before seen work by photographer Catherine Opie. Since
garnering attention in the early 1990s for arresting portraiture of her friends
and partners in the gay, lesbian, and trans leather community, Opie's work has
moved across genres to capture unique visions of the varied individuals and
communities that comprise the diversity of American culture. Each time she
approaches a new subject, be it California surfers or her recent body of work
focusing on high school football teams, Opie creates photographs that are both
beautiful and innovative visions and insightful portraits of the social
contexts she explores.
"Girlfriends" combines brand new color photographs with a selection of black and white photographs from Opie's archive that have never been printed. In this new series she explores the nature of butch-dyke identity through portraits including those of public figures such as k.d. lang and Eileen Myles as well as friends and partners who have appeared in her work throughout the years. In surveying the particular signifiers and discourses that shape desire, these works continually refer back to Opie herself who becomes as much of a subject constructed by the gaze as the individuals she depicts. The black and white photographs document a period spanning from the early 1990s until the present day. Made up of both carefully composed studio shots, as well as more impromptu moments, these works have a diaristic feel in which mementoes of desire become stilled with beautiful precision. Instead of nostalgia, these works capture the punctum of desire, encapsulated in a particular action or a physical detail. These two distinct aspects of the "Girlfriends" series coalesce to create a portrait of the photographer herself--an intimate view into the relationships and individuals that structure both affective and physical intimacy as a buttress of selfhood.
Catherine Opie's work has been featured in acclaimed exhibitions in the United States and Europe. In 2008 her retrospective "American Photographer" opened at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Additionally, she has had solo exhibitions at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, The Saint Louis Art Museum, the Photographers' Gallery in London, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Her work has appeared in numerous group exhibitions including the groundbreaking "Rrose is a Rrose is a Rrose: Gender Performance in Photography" at the Guggenheim in New York and the Whitney Biennials in 1995 and 2004. Her work is currently on view in "Hard Targets" at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio.
Image by Catherine Opie: JD, Girlfriend Series, 2008
Related link: Beautiful Decay