chapter
3 Pages

Catherine Opie

Daddys-leather men and women-and sadomasochism dykes in California, but her interest in

community is equally apparent in several of her photographic series from the last decade. As

she has stated: “The s/m community … was thought of-and still is thought of, to an extent-as

predatory or perverted. S/m was often framed in the language of the abnormal, which stripped it

Her first solo exhibition in New York, “Being and Having” (1991) at 494 Gallery, brought

together photographs of women, set against bright yellow studio backgrounds, who directly

addressed the camera. They posed in moustaches, creating an illusion of hyper-masculinity that

confronted prior conceptions about lesbian identity. Produced just one year after Judith Butler’s

groundbreaking theoretical text, Gender Trouble, and following the pinnacle of the culture wars

of the 1980s, Opie’s overwhelmingly honest photography hit a nerve in the art world by forcefully

challenging the status quo.