Catherine OPIE

At Media City Seoul

Inauguration (2009)

photo series

Seoul Museum of Art, Gallery 2-C

Artist Profile

Born 1961; Lives and works in Los Angeles

Catherine Opie’s photographic oeuvre captures American urban landscapes following the tradition of social documentary. Since garnering attention in the early 1990s for her arresting portraits of her friends and partners in the gay, lesbian, and transsexual community, Opie’s work has moved across genres to capture the diversity of American life. Interested in what she calls “temporary communities” or communities formed around common interest or ways of life, Opie approaches her subject matter with deep sincerity and with a clarity of form. Using a pared down and straightforward visual language, Opie’s photographs resonate with a gravitas, its rigor matched by its richness.

Her Inauguration series shows scenes from the 2009 inauguration of US President Barack Obama, though the newly elected leader is characteristically out of the picture frame.  Her focus is directed at the individuals gathered to witness the momentous event, capturing the inauguration’s implications and depicting the feelings of the moment.  Fixating on the periphery of the spectacle, the artist avoids conventional depictions of inaugurations. Rather than the stratified pomp and circumstance around the event, Opie’s lens deliberately focuses on the crowd around it, isolating individuals who seem to be suspended in a moment of time, a moment of hope for the arrival of change.


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