Catherine Opie sits in a chair underneath maps of Vatican City affixed to the wall behind

Catherine Opie

Robert Mapplethorpe Resident in Photography
3 maggio–11 giugno 2021
Artist, Los Angeles
Professor of Photography, University of California, Los Angeles

“Photographer Catherine Opie’s expansive range of images shows an America that is sometimes hidden, but often in plain sight,” writes AAR President Mark Robbins in the catalogue for the group exhibition The Academic Body, held at AAR in 2019. “She strives to make apparent the things we no longer see in her subjects, whether that subject is surfers, football players, mini malls, the abstract blues of Lake Michigan, the S & M community, or lesbian couples.”

Opie recently photographed Florida swamps during a 2019 residency in New Smyrna Beach, and then took her camera across the country in an RV during the pandemic. She has visited Italy before but only now made the trip to Rome. As an artist interested in the “specificity of identity of place,” Opie planned to formulate how to photograph the Vatican, to “really look at the borders and the boundaries of the Vatican being its own city within a city.” Her challenge was to produce images that explore the position of Catholicism in relation to place and history. One idea was to capture the insides and outsides of corners that make up the walls between the Vatican and the rest of Rome. “My American identity is pretty tied up in my work. It’s going to be curious to try to figure this body of work,” Cathy remarked. “Identity is something that you just don’t slap on. You live it, and you look at it. You have to think about it.”

Opie is professor of photography and endowed chair of the Department of Art at the University of California, Los Angeles. Last October she participated in a Conversations/Conversazioni with Mark Robbins, titled “Notes from America.”