Opie: “I’m Kind of a Twisted Social Documentary Photographer”

August 1, 2009

26opie.xlarge2Catherine Opie is a portraitist who also photographs landscapes, cityscapes and contemporary still lives. Her portraits  play into the role of  social commentary, very edgy and maybe even controversial. So, her “Freeeways”  series sticks out as a completely different line of work. The fact is though, that her photographs of freeways are also a sorts of social commentray on the realities of todays’ city landscapes.

The series consists of 40 very small plates of highways photographed without cars or people. Opie’s opinion on freeways reveals the negative connotation these massive structures carry within themselves,

“The freeways separate communities […] but I would say that the biggest thing they do is separate the city from the suburb. They change the way people look at the city and the way master-planned communities have been built, popping up on the city’s outskirts.”

The photographs are beautiful and expose the magnificence of the curving network of roads. The sepia and black and white tones on the photographs only make them look gloomier and, to me, they summon images of a future in which we no longer use our highways yet sit there waiting for us to figure out what to do with them now.

Here are four photographs of the series:

Cathy Opi Highway Series

Catherine Opie at the Guggenheim

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