Beginnings and Endings | Photographer Catherine Opie | Louisiana Channel

We met Los Angeles-based photographer Catherine Opie in the midst of the Norwegian winter landscape taking images of mountains in the twilight.

“It’s a mood. It’s an emotion. It’s the idea that a day begins, a day comes down.”

“But it’s also thinking about how the history of blue is used in art. Thinking about Picasso’s Blue, thinking about Derek Jarman’s film Blue, thinking about Cerulean Blue in terms of painting, Italian Renaissance. Like what does that blueness hold and why do we, why do we seek it, and why is both dawn and dusk so important for the idea of beginnings and endings.”

The winter light reminds Opie of her childhood in Ohio and the bluish atmosphere across Lake Erie.

“Can we think about blue as a morning? As kind of not morning as in a morning, but as something that all of us are experiencing as the planet changes so rapidly. The landscape encompasses a much broader view.”

“It’s often supposed to offer us this place to go into nature. I think that the mountain photographs that I’m trying to do are not necessarily inviting you into nature, but to examine the body in the same way a portrait examines the body.”

“I’m always interested in this idea of how we think a photograph should be. Like the perfect sunrise, the perfect sunset, all of these expectations we have of the cliché around photography. By trying to do mountains it’s about this ascendance and not the ascendance in relationship to God, but of the ascendance of nature.”

To Opie, the Norwegian field trip has been a long-standing endeavor that – because of previous teaching obligations – first could be realized in January 2024.

“I think a lot of artists stay only within their comfort zone and feel like they want to know something so well that they repeat it over and over again. I’m not interested in repetition. Just as within my own identity, there’s been different critics or different writers in my life who insist that every body of work that I make is a queer body of work because of my sexuality and my identity. And I don’t want to be a singular artist just as I don’t want to be a singular identity.”

Catherine Opie (b. 1961) is one of the most important photographers of her generation. Her subjects have included early seminal portraits of the LGBTQ+ community, the architecture of Los Angeles’ freeway system, mansions in Beverly Hills, Midwestern icehouses, high school football players, California surfers, and abstract landscapes of National Parks, among others. She was a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow recipient and the Robert Mapplethorpe Resident in Photography at the American Academy in Rome for 2021. 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 during a field trip in Norway in January 2024.

Camera: Simon Weyhe
Edited by: Jarl Therkelsen Kaldan
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2024

Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling and Fritz Hansen.

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