Photographers In Focus: Catherine Opie


so what happened in the LA Times on Friday you have Donny Youngblood who’s a sheriff in Kern County talking about violence you have police pushing back protesters and you have a great catch made by a baseball player [Music] you know I pick up my first hammer actually on my ninth birthday it was given to me as a birthday present I was born in 1961 and the life magazines and looked magazines that were strewn in the house were things that I sat and looked at as a child a lot and began to think about what it meant to make photographs and how these photographs begin to actually create a larger narrative but I started mapping things out at that point [Music] being in having was the first body of work that actually got shown in a gallery so one of the things that I was doing is you know we’re still looking around in relationship to my neighborhoods and my communities and at the same time I was going out with my friends on my motorcycles all dressed up in leather and wearing fake mustaches and and so basically I had all my gave my friends money to go buy mustaches at the Hollywood wig store on Hollywood Boulevard there’s humor in it but also within humor you can explore all these kind of other relationships of what it is to deal with homophobia and how its constructed within our society I was making myself vulnerable because I knew that I had to put myself within the body of work for the body of work to actually function in in relationship to a larger identity that I couldn’t just be a lawyer within my own community that I had to be a participant in it without representation you can’t make change and I think that all of us are incredibly vulnerable and that’s where this base of fear comes through is is vulnerability in the lack of education and so community is a great way to begin to articulate the more complex ideas around that constantly try to reinvent your own self as an artist I think the huge shift for everybody who had thought of me just as the studio photographer who is making queer photographs all of a sudden they were looking at platinum prints of freeways and I remember the first time I showed them was in Long Beach this person looking at the photographs and going oh they’ve got the wall labels wrong this isn’t Catherine Opie’s work and it was like okay that was exactly why I had to make that shift because if you look from age 9 all the way through of never not putting down a camera there is so many different layers and relationship to what I’m interested in in terms of creating representations I [Music] think it’s really hard to be a photographer right now the incredible amount of images in our society have allowed us to read images really quickly but what is that quickness in relationship to how images form history so I’ve been collecting every cross section of magazine as well as every LA Times since Trump has been elected and everyday all the images are cut out of the newspaper a lot of guns you know hands holding guns swing Keys slinkys and guns who knows I would never want to say good subject matter but I feel like pressing up against it is important in relationship to understanding the incredible complexities that we face in terms of humanity and living in this world I know how photography can serve us and what it is supposed to be doing but is it doing it in a way that’s allowing the discourse to move forward is a place of great questioning for me [Music]

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