Edition 1 of 8 + 2AP
20.3 x 20.3 cm (8 x 8 in)
Image courtesy of the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery
Catherine Opie (b. 1961, Sandusky, Ohio) lives and works in Los Angeles. This portrait of her friend, artist Monica Majoli, is an early work from a series of black and white portraits of figures in the Los Angeles queer community in the early 1990s.
Catherine Opie began her “public” artistic career in 1991 with a series of thirteen photographs titled “Being and Having.” The title was a seeming allusion to Jacques Lacan’s contentious psychoanalytic system that posits women as “being” the phallus, and men as “having” it. Rejecting outright such heterosexist structuralism, Opie’s staged “documentary” portraits depicted (and thereby demarcated) a community organized around its members’ identifications with butch-dyke, queer, trans, and s/m politics. But the photos never seemed to represent “identity politics” proper, which, at least in its most vulgar manifestations, has always been about essentialism and the presupposition of a subject (a “doer behind the deed,” per Nietzsche, via Judith Butler, who in the early 1990s was building her own powerful critique of Lacan’s presumptively “straight” model). On the contrary, Opie’s images—while about visibility, group identification, and, certainly, subjecthood—have always suggested that you, too, could get in on the fun. Opie wasn’t born with pervert carved into her chest; she made it that way. Her work is about deep identifications—not identity.
Thomas Dane Gallery
Monica Majoli, Carl (2019)