Catherine Opie: A World Beyond Selfies
“I was never an optimist in thinking that my images would change laws. But I certainly thought that I would be able to create a history.” Catherine Opie, photographer of minority groups and subcultures, can be both political and very internal.
Because of the extreme proliferation of images in contemporary culture, working with photography today is very challenging, explains Catherine Opie: “We are so oversaturated with images, so right now it’s about one question: can I hold you? Can I get you to look at an image for longer than a second?” All of her work attempts one thing - to hold the attention of the viewer: “And that’s the greatest question we have to face within art right now, we are barraged with so much.”
Much of Opie’s work is invested in questions of social inequality. Having portrayed different minorities, she turned to the queer community at the height of the AIDS epidemic. “It was about creating a voice for this subculture and a queer community that was under siege,” she explains. While Opie does not believe her photographs directly influence social change she does believe that it can have important effects: “It allowed that young person looking at my work in a museum in 1995 to think: “Oh gosh, my life is going to be ok.” On an individual level you can certainly create a platform for people to recognize themselves.”
Catherine Opie (b. 1961) is an American photographer, whose photographs often evolve around minorities and subcultures. She has exhibited at international venues such as Guggenheim Museum in New York, The Photographer’s Gallery in London, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark. Opie lives and works in Los Angeles.
Catherine Opie was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at her studio in Los Angeles, California in January 2016.