April 3, 2017
This is so sick that it sheds new light on the concept of “degenerate art”:
“In the course of a thirty-year career, the photographer Catherine Opie has made a study of the freeways of Los Angeles, lesbian families, surfers, Tea Party gatherings, America’s national parks, the houses of Beverly Hills, teen-age football players, the personal effects of Elizabeth Taylor, the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, Boy Scouts, her friends, mini-malls, and tree stumps. But her most famous photographs are probably two that she took of herself, early in her working life. In “Self-Portrait/Cutting,” which Opie made in 1993, when she was thirty-two years old, she stands shirtless with her back to the camera in front of an emerald-green tapestry, which offsets her pale skin and the rivulets of blood emerging from an image carved into her back with a scalpel: a childlike scene of a house, a cloud, and a pair of smiling, skirt-wearing stick figures. In “Self-Portrait/Pervert,” made the following year, Opie is faceless and topless and bleeding again: she sits in front of a black-and-gold brocade with her hands folded in her lap, her head sealed in an ominous black leather hood, the word “pervert” carved in oozing, ornate letters across her chest. …
Opie grew up in the Midwest. She was going to be a kindergarten teacher before she became a photographer. She always wanted to be a mother. “ ‘Self-Portrait/Cutting’ was about longing,” Shaun Caley Regen, Opie’s gallerist since 1993, told me. “It was about an unattainable ideal—two women, a house, whatever it was she felt she couldn’t have—cut into her back.” …
In the intervening decades, Opie has moved from marginal radical to establishment fixture. In 2008, the Guggenheim devoted four floors to “Catherine Opie: American Photographer,” a major mid-career retrospective that attracted some three thousand people a day. Several luminous shots that Opie took of Lake Michigan hung in the Obama White House. Opie is a tenured professor at U.C.L.A., and sits on the boards of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and the Andy Warhol Foundation. She earns more than a million dollars in a good year. Recently, when the Smithsonian Archives of American Art gave Opie a medal at a gala on the Upper East Side, the host noted that it was his first opportunity to honor a pillar of the “ ‘Los Angeles leather-dyke community.’ ”
Her pictures ask how sure we are about what we know to be true. “There’s a certain kind of equality I’m trying to create, which is what I believe American democracy is about,” Opie said. …”
This filth is now the pinnacle of the art world in the contemporary United States. It represents the “equality” that “American democracy is about” to many on the West Coast. If this the “mainstream” in the United States, I would much rather identify with something else.