Catherine Opie


That i wanted the cutting and the needles to be completely precise. Because i was thinking about whole binds kind of henry the eighth portrait in a certain way and i was thinking about what the word pervert man in one thousand nine hundred ninety four and my community especially when there was a beginning of a divide within our own community. Ted audio collective. This is designed matters with debbie millman for seventeen years hippie. Bill has been talking with designers and other creative people about what they do. They got to be who they are and what they're thinking about and working on this episode artists. Catherine obey talks about her photography and herself. Portrait's so what does the word i mean. How do we deal with language you know. Is this enough of a pervert for you. Thank you for listening to today's episode of design matters sponsored by user testing stay tuned for later in the episode to hear about. How user testing can help you with your new project before my interview. Today with catherine opie. I'd like to talk to you about a brand new book that i'm really excited about. The finish. Brand marimekko is synonymous with joyful colors and bold expressive prints a beautiful new book from yale. University press titled marimekko. The art of printmaking illustrates marimekko. Seventy years of extraordinary designs and tells the story of the people behind the brand and the feminist inclusive ideals that guide them learn more at yale. Books dot com or ask for the book at your local bookstore. Catherine opie is one of the most preeminent artists of her generation and has made some of the most indelible images of our time her intimate photographic portraits of queer communities in los angeles and san francisco. Put her on the map in the early nineteen nineties. She also works in landscapes both natural and urban her black and white photos of empty freeways in strip malls hold up a haunting mirror of contemporary american. And once you see some of herself portrait's i guarantee it will stay with you forever. Her work has been featured in hundreds of major museums gallery exhibitions public collections. All around the world for the first time. The body of work has been published in a stunning new monograph published by fading it includes over three hundred images as well as essays written by the likes of the new yorkers hilton ounce. She joins me today to talk about the evolution of her extraordinary career. Catherine opie welcome to design matters. Thank you so much dovey and designed does matter. So i'm happy to be here. Thank you thank you catherine. I understand that you still have a garfield stuffed animal. And a third place bowling trophy from the nineteen seventies on display in your studio. I actually think it's eleventh place a more worse in my mind. Yeah okay why do you still have these objects and way on display. Well you can see me. I have a shelf behind me. If people were on zoom they would be able to see a shelf behind me that numerous books and little things and recently my mom was cleaning out her house and whereby ready to move her to another place. That is for Living at eighty five and a really beautiful way and she brought me this trunk of objects. And when i opened it it was just. I had the shelves. And i thought oh. Well i'll just have this weird garfield stuffed animal and one can't throw out the eleventh place. Plaque of bullying from sandusky ohio. No i agree. I have to confess. I have a little trophy from sixth grade coming in third place in the three legged race and that that is also important to be still a little bit better than me. Well yeah just. Just the only evidence of athletic prowess i will ever have in my life. So yeah gathering you. Were born in sandusky ohio. Your mother was a gym teacher until she had children. Your dad ran. His family's art supply. Company is true we also had one of the country's preeminent collections of republican political memorabilia both republican and democratic. Actually it was. It was a large overview of of political paraphernalia including all the lincoln ferro types so it was quite an extensive fairly important collection. Actually what has happened to the collection He sold it upon us leaving. Ohio and i think that that person and donated to the smithsonian in my father's obituary. It said that he donated it to the smithsonian but my father was a frugal businessman. And i think he sold it to somebody who then donated and i understand. He gave you an embroider. Commemorative ribbon made after the assassination. Of abraham lincoln. Is that true. Yes that is true. I have that upstairs here on the studio in this special little box. That is actually a family. Business box opie craft. And it's kind of his treasure chest that He's sent to me before he passed away. So that i would have these different little moments including he always carried in ohio buckeye in his pocket for lock. So it's just this little treasure chest of things that included the lincoln ribbon because lincoln happened to be assassinated. Unfortunately on what is my birthday april fourteenth. Oh wow now. Was your father. Republican by father was republican up until Obama ran and when obama ran my father's switched to being a democratic voter of for the reasons that the republican party was no longer the republican party that he believed in and he did not like the conservatives and he believed that women had a right to choose and he believed having lesbian daughter that i had rights and so forth and so the republican party that he grew up with was no longer an affiliation that he wanted to have he must have been extraordinarily proud to know that your work was hanging in the obama. White house yeah. No he was. I mean he was very proud of me. He you know one of my biggest nervous moments was both him and my stepmother. Coming to the nineteen ninety-five whitney biannual opening. Because it was the first time. I was ever in a major museum. Show and obviously my weirdness was very much on display there but he just rode along with it in a in a very good way you know surprisingly so i want to talk about the exhibit and a little bit but i want to start first with your first experiences with photography. I understand it eight years old while in the fourth grade. You wrote a book. Report on the photography of lewis. Hine why lewis hine. And how did you first find out about him. Well was actually not on lewis hine. It was on the photograph of the girl from the carolina mills. It was in my social studies book. And i was reading about child labor and i was supposed to be writing a report about child labor and the history of that in the us. And but i spoke about the photograph. And what the photograph told me and it made me realize that also probably growing up with all this political memorabilia around me that history is made within an image culture and so i had that awareness of apparently and asked for a camera on my ninth birthday. So i could be. You know a documentary photographer. So you always knew what you wanted to do and to be in a way. I guess i mean i guess so. It seems now that it's hard to believe that. That was really what i was going to decide to be. But at that moment it was important to me and the camera was bought for me for my birthday. And i used it throughout my life to document my life and that is including even when we moved to california. I used by babysitting money to build a dark room in in our house where i ruined. The family tiles of the bathroom with chemistry design does matter. Yeah your mother gets mad at you if you get fixture and developer oliver bathroom tiles but was a spare man. It was my bathroom attached room so it was perfect way to make a dark room. Yeah i spent a lot of hours in there. I understand that you went about making friends. When you move to san diego or outside of san diego by taking photos and i believe this is also when you had. Your first crush is that. I had my first crush on a very beautiful woman. Who was a profoundly. Amazing actor by the name of serene. Monet flack and she lives in england at this point but She was my first major crush where i was still trying to figure out certain things but just couldn't not be around three and would you know i grew roses and i would bring her rose every day and so it was pretty crush worthy actually. Although sri didn't realize that i had a crush on her. I met up with her later in england. And said you know. I was completely in love with you in high school and she was like you were. I thought you were just my best friend. I was like oh well you. You knew from a young age that you were gay but said that the lack of role models around you made coming out a difficult process. And you and i are the same exact age both born in nineteen sixty one and so i didn't come out until much much later in life and so i fully understand that sort of difficulty. What was the most difficult aspect for you. I think that until i moved to san francisco again. I didn't have it surrounding me. I was called names in high school. I was called a dyke. Was you know kind of harassed that way being homosexual scared me. I thought that i would be accepted in society. I carried that. Fear an internal homophobia within me and it didn't happen like legitimately until i moved to san francisco and i was sitting on a curb with my best friend dean at that moment in time dean moser who i had met at a residence club that i was working for my room and board. While i went to san francisco art institute and dean thought i had a crush on him and so dean said cathy. Something i have to tell you. I'm i'm i'm gay and i was like. Oh well i i am too you know. And that was the first time that it was actually spoken. And then there was no hesitation after speaking. What's so interesting to me. In terms of looking at your body of work is despite the difficulty that you might have experienced. And the inner homophobia you did seem right from the very beginning in your body of work to i. Embrace isn't even the right word. but celebrate. Celebrate your your sexuality and your gayness. Yeah no i think that i did but it wasn't right away actually took some time. I mean there was the side person kathy. Ob ride who everybody who is a friend called me calls me cathy by cathy opie published in on our backs magazine not catherine opie so i took on these different kinds of personas i suppose to again create a different compartments of my life and what is now. I guess that's in some ways like having multiple closets in one tiles. And i i think that you know Really beyond being kathy on our backs and celebrating that through a queer culture. It wasn't until becoming a part of act up and queer nation that i decided to make my work publicly about mike awareness. But i would have to say that. A good portion of my work was trying to be very serious street photographer in san francisco and then quickness within my work at cal arts was actually the dissemination and observation of master-plan communities in southern california which i kind of grew up. Been from moving. From sandusky to rancho bernardo pie california and watched that turn into masterplan community. So i think you know. The quickness was always also involved in relationship to how do we fit squirrelled. And you know if there's this kind of separation in relationship to idea of community than how do i portray my community and i think it was a quandary for quite some time. The quadri also. I think began even before you committed to photography as a profession. At at one point after you graduated high school you considered becoming a kindergarten teacher and even went to Virginia mont college to study early childhood education. I mean that's in thinking about the pathways of a life. You were on that. Pathway i was i profoundly love children like i really really loved children and i suppose that's even the other aspect of clearness is. How was i going to become a mom. Because that was always what i wanted to be. Even as a child. I would tell my mom that i was going to have twelve children for some reason that i saw Yeah that would have been too many. Yeah so kindergarten you know. Be a camp counselor for a long time. And i really liked kids so i just imagined that i would be pretty fun. Kindergarten teacher a year into your studies to become a teacher. You call your mom and said. I'm an artist and i need to go to art school. How did she respond. I mean she was both your parents really encourage you to be this kindergarten teacher. Had they respond to you wanting to be an artist. Well my mom was the one who was supporting my ability to go to college. My father was it was financially capable but chose to not financially support my endeavor of receiving a college degree. He kind of believed that when you turn eighteen. You're on your own kind of guy generous now right so so my mom you know. That was hard for her. She actually took a loan off of her car that she owned outright for me to go ahead and move to san francisco and i picked san francisco art institute. I wasn't thinking about. San francisco is being a very gay city. It was just like in california and a really good notable arts school that had like ansel adams and minor white and dorothea laying and the legacy of that program in terms of photography is is actually. Why chose it and mom's supported. She said okay. But i'm only going to be able to pay the tuition kathy. This is a really big tuition. And just so you know in nineteen eighty one. It was about seven thousand dollars a year and she was able to get me all the way through paying the tuition and i did get some scholarship money and then grad school was again up to me so if i was going to go to graduate school than i had to do it on my own. You left san francisco to pursue your mfa at california institute of the arts in valencia. You said that that transition sucked in. What way did it suck well. I was leaving a community. That was profoundly also becoming decimated from aids and i all of a sudden moved back into a very hot off southern california environment in the middle of a master plan community that i had exited when i was you know basically nineteen years old from from living with at home in in powei and to be all of a sudden going from the bay area of this incredible city. And it's the first time. I had ever lived in a city back to the suburbs where it was really hot and i couldn't wear my leather jacket year. Round like i could in san francisco and being kind of newly possessed of my my clearness my being dyke. It wasn't even queen s. I don't even think we use the word. Queer and in one thousand nine hundred five but my my kind of being a dyke and what that meant for me. Yeah and it was even i. Even though i had catherine lord and millie wilson and mazing people around me at cal arts who celebrated that and definitely added onto my ability to understand. Theory and feminism. And you know had. Douglas crimp come through the school enormous about people at that time period. It's still wasn't san francisco. Yeah as a way to cope. You started photographing planned community. That was being built across the road from your apartment which ultimately became part of your thesis portfolio in this work included photographs of quote matching model homes plots of land and billboards advertising united states where the children are apple cheeked in tow headed and the parents are as straight as ken and barbie unquote. What what provoked this particular direction of your work. Well at first. I didn't have a car. Because i was moving from san francisco and my car had been totaled and i just decided to walk with my camera and so i was also a you know a street trained as more or less a street photographer in san francisco so in southern california. There's very little street. And so you just start wandering. And i'm a big proponent of wandering. I talk about wandering quite a bit and i recognized what was being built was actually what i watched being built in my Teen years and decided that it was something that i could try to talk about. In the meantime you began to contribute photographs to lesbian magazine mentioned on our backs whose name was response to the anti pornography feminist journal off our back. Yes how did you. How did you first discover the magazine. Living in san francisco. You're basically embedded in that point. Valencia street in san francisco was the kind of lesbian Area the castor was for the boys. Valencia street was for the women. We had artem est cafe. We had a center bath house. We had a meal. Yes which was the seven day a week lesbian bar. So you had all of this happening all at once. And i'll tell you like the women who would go to meal. Yes we're also the women who were being photographed by wonderful photographers. Joe pose ner and susie bright and all of the kind of sex positive in terms of starting on. Our backs was right there at that time and so i just decided like why want a picture and on our backs. I'm a photographer. i'm. I'm a lesbian. Why why it. Shouldn't i try to actually do that as well. Those magazines introduced me to my own sort of private realization. That i was gay at the time although it was another twenty five years before i publicly came out but other magazines that have in my collection that i thought you'd enjoy sure you know this one. Yeah and then caught looking which droid inari publication. At the time you also joined a women's as an society called the outcasts co founded by the activist and academic gayle rubin. But you've said that. Sm was never sexual for you and have described it as the scariest. Most violent secret impulses that could be followed invalidated and made almost cozy in an atmosphere. Where you could always say no and you go on to say that you needed to push yourself to get over the enormous amount of fear you had around your body. Where do you think that fear came from. What was that fear about. Well it's it's personal and it's it's not on the record in terms of personal but there was some childhood trauma my part and i think that there was an enormous amount of healing that this community brought to me relationship to trauma. And you've never read this in an interview. So i'm saying right now for the first time but and you know it's been very hard in a certain way to be quiet about this during the hashtag metoo movement but there's reasons and the reasons are as when you make self-portraits that i made people easily equate that to. Oh well that's why. She made that. She was traumatized as a child. And i try very hard again. Though that kind of compartments that i put things in the in this society were very easily to connote things and to take things and blow them out of proportion in a way that's not authentic to one's own experience so my authenticity to my own experience in my childhood was definitely Worked out on an emotional level very much so through the leather community but at the same time the public -ness of that is not necessarily something that i feel. I need to have completely spelled out in the world. I completely understand for years. I was in the closet and also would not disclose my own early childhood trauma in with sexual abuse primarily. Because i never wanted anybody to say that anything i did was because of that were that i was damaged in some way. Because of it. Or that i would be judged because of my own inner homophobia in in those decades now but i know that the king community essentially saved the life of my wife. Roxanne gay she. She's very public about the fact that if it weren't for the community she wouldn't be alive today. Yeah i feel very very much the same without having to lay out all the details of my past. But what a an amazing place to be able to work out So much thank you for for feeling that you could trust me with with this That sense of community that both you talk about that that roxanne is experienced. That seems to be the most important aspect of being involved in the dsm seen and that it was also political. It was his political as much as it was sexual as much as it was community. And i read that. You often talked philosophy in the dungeon. Kale ruben has great to talk to. I mean i remember at one point. You know Asking gail for coffee and just wanting to talk about the kind of amazing experiences of the transition of so many. Butch dykes transitioning to mail like in the beginning. And i wanted to have like a real philosophical conversation with her in relationship to aids and the kind of work that she did in relationship to the gay male leather sex club south of market. And so when you when you have actual role models and brilliant people that were surrounded me at that time period and various sects positive people. Yes it was really interesting. Deep discourse in relationship to what we were doing and what we were holding and also consensuality and i mean. I wish everybody had that education in some ways. Yes yes some of your early work for arnold bax included photos of your sex toy and leather collection. And there's a beautiful image of a woman standing while urinating and in one thousand nine hundred seventy created a self portrait titled kathy which is a black and white image of yourself wearing a strap on dressed in a negligee astride a bed and at that time. You vowed you'd never be a voyeur within your own community. But i'm wondering. Do you ever feel shy about sharing this part of yourself in such a public way. Not anymore did you. At that point or i think that i did. I think that i was still protecting my parents and my family. Yeah i think that it takes a long time to figure out how you should be as a person what is okay to be out in the world in relationship to also this kind of weird protective bubble one puts around their their biological family and at a certain point i just realized that my family has my chosen family that even though i have a profound sense of love for my parents that i it was also not going to remain in the closet and that that was not a healthy position for me and so i just decided to go for but i didn't put that image out actually until the two thousands. I mean that's the thing is like i went back into the archive. And i also probably thought that some of the black and white work from girlfriends. That i did was maybe too close to mapplethorpe and i needed to create my own identity within the leather community as a woman that was separate from mapplethorpe. Because we both also have similar as statics right like we really liked to highly. Is that assize our material in a visual kind of Classical way and so that work in the two thousand was fine to pull out where in the eighties. When you know robertson. Pass away from aids until nineteen eighty nine. It was too close. Is that why you stayed away from using a square format well used to square format a lot and all that private work. I mean it was all shot. Hasselblad and Yeah no but in the archive has that. Because it's a camera that i really enjoyed using including in the new five book you'll see an image of me with my grandfather's roller flexes. His self portrait on one of the beginning stages where it was like nine thousand nine hundred eighty three or eighty four. And i'm in new york city in self portrait with my grandfather's fedora. With a big yeah overcoat holding twin reflex so that work existed and it was going on and i was making it but when i decided to make work of my own community i felt that i needed to create a different way of thinking about documentary and so with being in having which was the first studio photographs of mind with the with the women. Fake mustaches my friends with fake mustaches and looking straight into the camera using that yellow background consistently with the consistent framing created a conceptual positioning to portraiture. That i felt was a way to shift from on necessarily a comparison to maple for work being and having really shot you defame. What made you decide to shoot them on a golden yellow background. Well was in my living room. In silverlake i lived on sanborn. Have and i. You know higher made all my early. Portraits was in my living room. I didn't have a studio. Like yellow is kind of a hard color in relationship to skin tone but the other thing is is in terms of diversity of skin tone of my friends in relationship to inclusion yellow. Was the best to kind of make it pop and i would often have all my friends get their mustaches. And we would kind of make portraits out shooting with a four by five camera and we'd make the portraits and then we'd just hang out afterwards so was also i didn't in a small living room in silverlake. I didn't have the ability to change over all different colors of seamless. Nor was i thinking about seamless. In that way at that point it wasn't until i started making the portraits the year after which began first as a collaboration with my good friend. From collards richard hawkins. Who's a fellow artist where we started making portraits of our mutual friends at that point and then he realized that it was my body of work and he just said this is. This is yours. Go with it But he he introduced me really thinking about holbein. And what nobility is and what that is within our community. And we had amazing extensive conversations about that. And richard as a very brilliant person who i felt just helped lead of a pathway for me in terms of continuing to photograph the community after being in having understand that the title of the show being in having was a play on psychoanalyst jacques locations idea that men have the phallus while women as the embodiment of erotic. Desire and art are the fellas and when i was reading this. I'm like is this deep serious so this is serious and i have to tell you that. A title came from the woman with her arms crossed over her chest. Peeing in on our backs. So she is an amazing philosopher from toronto canada by the name of annemarie smith and she was one of the head kind of political philosophers and teachers at cornell but she was my lover at the time and Met her in canada at a bar. You know and she had been making postcards with a friend That were really awesome. Roddick postcards from this collective in canada. And i'm sorry. I don't remember the collective's name anymore. But i was in the bar going. Hey do you. Who made these. And then the woman. I was talking to said. Yeah my myself and my next door neighbor did and then it started a very long friendship and love affair with amery smith including the portrait. That's on the bed the self-portraits on our bed when she came to visit me in california while i was in grad school that was a student's installation in their studio and they let us have it as a little of private palace so to speak during her visit august wrapped together. That's the beautiful thing about community right. Is you meet people. And you're in this kind of you know in the eighty s. You're you're going through so much as a community especially in relationship to politics aids and and visibility and just all of these inner weavings are really also part of my ability to thank and begin to figure out how to make work experience. What your customer experiences with user testing with your launching new product prototype or marketing campaign. You'll get real time video feedback. The user testing human insight platform. Let you understand it all from your customers perspective. Plus it allows you to target your exact audience ask questions or requests to perform tasks and get a window into their world the result you feel what your customer feels so you can build the best experience imaginable for a free trial. Visit user testing dot com forward slash design matters twenty years after you took the being in having photos several were used to accompany the opening credits of the l word. The original version of the alward. What did you think when you were asked about their using your photos of women in drag for the titles. I was funny. Because i there's another photograph that you probably know because you. You've really researched man. You know my work but for our listeners is a photograph of from the series domestic of two women in a swimming pool Mickey and eileen eileen was the producer of the l word i- chacon. I lean chicken so for my first show at regan projects. Her in maguy hosted my opening dinner party at their house and so when she approached me we had already forged a friendship in the art world. And i just thought yeah. Go for it. you're making a show. Let's like us lesbians with mustaches. And the title and i think that is also a different kind of radic -ality of los angeles because of the kind of lipstick lesbian Positioning of los angeles as a city. That i thought it was actually pretty brave that she wanted to do that. And it can noted also another part of the community in l. a. that might not be actually represented within the series. Yeah i love those. I love those opening credits What do you think of the reboot. Have you been watching. you know. i haven't yet. I have to. I have to get on that. I haven't watched the reboot and it's just because there's so much to stream during the pandemic there was a lot extreme and i'm just not caught up on the ellwood yet but i will. It's it's fine. yeah. I'm loving it. I'm absolutely loving and just seeing bentini together. Not as a couple but to seeing them in the same room on the same sofa makes me happy. Catherine you created three portraits in less than a decade three self-portraits in less than a decade that propelled you to even greater awareness and fame in the art world. Then beyond and like to talk to you about all three if that's okay. Yeah the. I is titled self-portrait cutting you created this piece in one thousand nine hundred ninety three and a photograph of you from behind facing away from the camera your shirtless. There's a drawing carved into the skin of your back featuring stick figure women smiling and holding hands and behind them as a house with some birds flying and it looks like it could be a child's drying. You're standing in front of what looks like a baroque type wallpaper. What did this photograph represent. At the time. The time it was something that i actually was is a photograph out of morning My first domestic relationship. And the only one i had ever had before of being with my current partner and wife. Julie burley was with a woman. Pam greg and i was utterly in love and we built a house and we got two puppies and we were living the domestic dream. I imagined in my mind that it would go on for a long period of time. That the two puppies would potentially turn into children. And all of all of that which was still hard in nineteen ninety-three to imagine you know very difficult nineteen ninety-three to imagine and then blood as a substances the substance that was feared. And you know one of the things that i did say in the quote that sm was never sexual wasn't actually completely true. because pam. and i met in a leather context and ended up being lovers. I've had other lovers within the leather community in that context so there is a bit of Kind of pleasure in terms of sexuality mixed into it in terms of my history of relationships but pam broke up with me and i was devastated and for year spent Doodling on a pad. And i would doodle these tick figure girls with the house with the sun coming out of the cloud. Says the sense of optimism. Right that i will find love again. And then i decided to go ahead and make it a cutting and make it a portrait and i was in the process of making the other portraits at that time and that it was just a profound sense of loss and longing not just for me personally and losing my first domestic relationship but the notion of loss overall in terms of the aids epidemic and watching it decimate all of these couples in communities. So even though there's to stick figure girls with skirts but it was yeah. I wanted to make a very complicated universal peace that went beyond my own personal sadness of the loss of my domestic relationship. And that is what i came up with. Can you talk about. How the artist. Judie bamber carved the illustration into your back. What was it like for her. I think she was really nervous. I mean it's actually on videotape. We have both on documented on videotape We don't have self portrait nursing. But we have the cutting my back. End pervert documented self-portrait cutting happened in los angeles in my new living room and what we called custody estrogen which was predominantly a lesbian Apartment building in korea town on catalina street as they're lean amazing history. Jenny shimizu lived above me and there was just incredible group of of of dikes in their motorcycles. That had all live together in this apartment building and then my good friends. Mike and sky. Who had photographed. Were there to support judy. And my other good friend. Who was the photographer. Connie samaras took the dark sides out of the camera and operated the four-by-five camera because there wasn't a you know it's a self portrait but it couldn't be done like on a tripod with a cable release because it was four by five so judy practice on chicken thighs before she brackets on my body. I hope they're photos documenting. What's amazing is one woman the most precise painters ever. I mean her work as unbelievable if you don't know her work her work and were born on the same day in the same year so we both are share april fourteenth nineteen sixty one. She was one of my best friends. And i wanted an apprehension in the cutting i wanted it to not be done by. Somebody like microscope. I would have been able to do it perfectly. I wanted the blood to kind of like almost like as if the surface of the skin was scratched but at moments like you know the scalpel would actually make mark. That was more definitive and it was never meant to be a permanent cutting. I guess you know it became obviously a pretty iconic portrait and then in nineteen ninety-four. You created self portrait pervert. This time. you're sitting in front of a black and gold brocade. Your hands are folded in your lap. You're facing the camera. Your head is completely covered in a black leather gimped mask your wearing leather chaps in the word pervert is carved in bloody kinda losing very ornate letters across your chest and the body modifier ray lynn. Galina cut the word into your skin and then to of your friends from piercing shop. Line your arms forty six times from the shoulder down to the wrist with two inch needles twelve gauge needles. But i remember. We wanted the gauge. To be big enough that it would create like appearance of body armor and a certain and that i wanted the cutting and the needles to be completely precise because i was thinking about whole binds kind of henry the eighth portrait in a certain way and i was thinking about. What the word pervert man in nineteen ninety four and my community especially when there was a beginning of a divide within our own community. And this is very specific. It's not just for what pervert means from jesse helms the holding mapplethorpe photographs on the senate floor. But it also came from internal homophobia of our own community of again the workers. The you know people who practice were also perverts and that there are portions of the gay and lesbian community are quote unquote normal. And i didn't like the notion of normal. I've never liked the binary of normal or abnormal. I'm more interested in the complexity of sexuality and desire and so was Yeah was that moment. Where in the same. My friend steak tattooed dyke on the back of her neck. That i was going to have rail. And do this cutting and that was done in san francisco in a studio. Why was making a portrait series. It was attended by an enormous amount of my friends including the incredible trans historian. Susan stryker was there and it was you know there were The needles were done first. And then i sat in the chair and roelant did the cutting and then we. I put the hood on and we. We made some without the hood and some with hood. But i didn't want my face. Because i wanted the notion of visibility to be placed on language. So what does the word pervert mean. How do we deal with language you know. Is this enough of a pervert for you and it's also really beautiful and then you actually have to deal with the beauty of it as well because it's not dripping blood it's not it's don in such a way that it just looks like almost a red tattoo but it is blood coming to the surface. There is a real elegance to the photo of the way it's constructed. Had you been very involved in body modification at that time as well. How hard was it for you to have forty six to gauge needles. Put through your skin. Not that difficult actually because when you prepare yourself. It's totally different. If i'm walking through the house. And i stubbed my toe on a furniture. I sit there and i weep. I'm like really angry. I can't believe i've heard myself but when you've already been kind of in the leather community and you are doing this in the dungeons on your own you. You know what you're kind of doing and so you. Your mindset is different. I mean if if something goes to the doctor and get gets a shot. The only thing that is hurting is actually the fear of getting the shop. So are kind of relationship to fear is so complicated as human beings. And i was never afraid because i knew that my friends were professionals and railing was a professional and that they had done this time and time again and i had done a lot of play piercing in a lot of cutting out in a private setting and so i wasn't I was very definitive. And knowing what i wanted to do and and had the mindset to go through it did you experience any of the fauria. You that sometimes occurs during body modification. Oh absolutely now your endorphins. Erc going off the rockers at it was funny because if you watch the video tape. There's one moment where it i have. The the group dead can dance playing in the background. Because i love that kind of meditative music and you know you're breathing and you're going through it and then rail and decided to stop for a moment. Try to pop a pimple on my chest. That was driving her crazy. And at that moment i lost my focus and then i started moaning a little bit more once. She went back into the cutting The cutting as much harder than the needles to go through needles are fairly quick. You know but but definitely cuttings are taken enormous amount of concentration. And your and that's partly. Why didn't want my face in. The picture is because i the endorphins are going off with my glasses off. My eyes are slightly crossed and the first thing that people look at in portraits is people's faces usually and it again had to remain on the body and about the body image was first shown to the public in nineteen. Ninety five at the whitney biennial. And you've said that since then you struggle to look at that photo now. How come well. It's not necessarily struggle. It's i haven't set a struggle. It's it's it's a photograph that i don't need to live with. It's a photograph that i made that. I'm proud of and that represented that moment in time. You know i had. I had several collectors at different moments. Say how powerful that peace is live with and that it's in their bedroom and they wake up every morning and i guess i started thinking. Could i wake up every morning but one of the things that i love about photography it defines the sense of time and within the defined sense of time of that you know going back to that geeky kind of cardiac persona notion of the decisive moment. Like pervert is a decisive moment on my part but that doesn't necessarily define me as a sixty year old woman now so the frozenness this of my time in my community. I'm so profoundly. Honored that my friends and i myself chose to use ourselves in relationship to community to make and work on a body of work that created a certain history in a certain idea visibility. But that doesn't mean that were held in that time in the same way that were held in the time in terms of the making of the work. Before i ask you about the third self-portrait self portrait nursing. I want to ask you about your thoughts on domesticity in your work and you said that self portrait cutting was about the relationship between queer nece and domesticity. I'm wondering if you can talk a little bit. More about what that notion between squareness domesticity is or was well throughout history. People fall in love and throughout history and relationship to homophobia especially after say the you know the roaring twenties so to speak and when kind of the puritanical notion of homosexuality ended up entering the kind of religious indoctrination of not being acceptable and so forth and the bible misinterpreted as so forth When you fall in love you often wanna live with the person that you fall in love with and so domestic day was always literally a part of the notion of having a relationship and being in love and and opening up one's home of cohabitation and to then be denied that both on legal fronts as well as just rhetorically within our society is incredibly fraught. And so this notion of coming out of the closet always made me laugh. Because it's a closet is a domestic space closet is where one another's close co. Mingle if you don't have your own walk and 'cause has which i don't but a closet is where a co mingling of the every day happens and so yeah so it's you know. Domestic has always been a part of love and relationship and trying to build a life a home with another person after cutting pervert. You drove across the us in your rv photographing lesbian families. Women who had children who lived in groups couples engaging in everyday household activities across the country and you titled the portfolio domestic. You looking for something specific in that body of work. Well that body of work also was. I had been in a relationship then for three to four years with another amazing queer photographer. Important lesbian artists on historical level. Who should be. She's in books like stolen glances. But it's Her name is co. Sheila brooke and we are worried by us together. We were gonna do. We have been in three year relationship where she ironically was living on. Sanborn have where. I ironically lived with pam. My first domestic relationship and i was still in custody. Estrogen down in korea town and I just decided to go ahead and celebrate the notion of domesticity well By getting an rv and going around the country and making these photographs but they were also in conversation with glassy and mal mind terms of pleasure and terron domestic comfort. they were they. Were also a way for me to create a different kind of conversation around family that is not just couples. That is also lesbian. Households in the body of work reflected a different notion of family within my own lesbian community and Could sheila broke up with me on the road while i was on the road making this more more kathy. Ob pulling out her violin and more heartbreak around. Now i've been so i get it. So yes so that happened. And then i was left printing all of this work as my next body of work and Once again my kind of attempted having domestic acidity was a failed attempt. Just as the cutting on my back and you know. I basically picked up my life at that point because i didn't get a fulltime job at ucla. That was up for for teaching. And i was dating a woman. In new york. Daphne fitzpatrick another artists that we had met in australia and started a mad australian road trip and romance with each other and i just there was a job opening at yale and i thought well let me apply to yale and i ended up getting the job and moving from la because of absolute heartbreak with my relationship and the that was that in another chapter began prior to teaching yell. I know that you were awarded a fellowship at washington university in st louis missouri. Which is where you met your current partner juliette saly awesome an artist so i think back to la in an effort to be closer to her. Is that correct now. Now tell us. Tell us how goes on. The love goes off of the life of kathy ofi moments. Who are harder to find so. I met juliet wash shoe when i was teaching there on the foreign fellow and she became a friend but i thought she was really amazing. And kinda she blew my mind. julie Julia straight. And i was dating daphne fitzpatrick in new york and i was my whole life was just super discombobulated in in a way and so it was funny. Because i remember daphne going. How'd you talk about julia lot. You know you really are taught. And i'm like yeah. She says really awesome woman. She's my new friend. Basically daphne broke up with me as soon as i moved to new york which she was very wary. She was like i hope. You're not moving to new york for me. Like she was very clear that i shouldn't be moving to new york for her and that was fine. I just really liked her. And i liked her. You know all all of us are still best friends today. There my posse in new york incredible group of lesbian artists. That are now at this point. Were have over a twenty year friendship with one another. And so i kept talking to julie burly when i lived in new york and julie ended up being my date to my show at the mca chicago. That elizabeth smith curated and she kind of knew being my date that we were going to share the same hotel room and julie You know we. We've we fell in love. And i said by the way you know. I'm i'm in the process of trying to get pregnant. And she was like oh okay and she had already raised a daughter. She was a single mom from the age of eighteen on and this was the first time in her life that she was being independent and living away from sarah and so it was kind of an incredible statement to say that. I'm trying to get pregnant. And she was like okay and then we just ended up She moved in to l. a. When oliver was three months old. So i got head on it. I was asked if i was happy at yale by ucla. Jim walling and i said why and he goes well. I'm gonna open a position. And i would like you to apply for it and ucla was always a dream of mine. And i thought about okay. I live in brooklyn. I'm want to have a baby. I'm going to have to move to new haven. I can't be two hours away from newborn. So all the stars aligned again for me so to speak. And i got pregnant new york and moved back when i was eight months pregnant julian. I bought a house over a three day period of time in west adams. We had three days to buy a house and we did. And i moved into that house and then she moved in when she finished her teaching position in oliver was about three months old fit together. Ever since yeah. It'll be twenty one years this november incredible absolutely incredible. Well the birth of your son. Oliver and the part he plays in your third self portrait. I wanna talk to you about yeah is the piece self portrait nursing. But before i ask you about it. There was one thing that i read. That i thought was so interesting. When you were trying to have a child a number of your butch friends were shot that you were going to have a product that you were trying to get pregnant and had a baby and you said this at the time. Why can't i be butch and have a baby. Why can't i acknowledge. The fact that i'm a biological woman and i have a vagina. That can do shit. So i'm wondering if you have any perspective on why it's so hard for people to accept this fluid expandability gender orientation society. Quite honestly roles are presented to us. I mean you are born the same year that i was born. Nineteen sixty one. He had to learn how to read from dickens. Jane again yet we have. It's a construct right. It's a construct that you have to break and a lot of people have a hard time understanding what it is to actually break a construct so to speak of what is dictated to us through this notion of normality in society. Yeah it's taken me this long. It's taken me. Fifty plus years to even feel like i have the beginnings of some answers and as i approached sixty am still struggling with truth and what it means to be fully out in the world in inevitably. They got slammed back at us in a completely different way in relationship to the last administration that we all just live under. I mean talk about crony and measures again to go from an enlightenment of the white house being lit and rainbow colors from the obama administration to what we just had to go through and are continuing to feel the ramifications from it and relationship to hate and homophobia within our society. Yeah progress has been made but that doesn't mean that it's still not frightening times to live in l. absolutely. I'm doing a lot of work right now. With lambda legal. And there's real concern that there might be cases that come to the supreme court challenging marriage equality seems just inconceivable. Say there's an enormous amount of us who are actually have been able to financially do fairly well in life. And i'm always a proponent of Starting a different kind of church for all of us a queer folks that if they want our tax money that goes to that church and then when they acknowledge us as actual like part of of citizenship and equality that they can have their tax money. But i'm i'm all for no no taxation without representation at this point i'm i'm over it and i'm yep catherine signed signed me up i just have to figure out a name for my non church church. I can help you with that. Okay self-portrait nursing. It's the third portrait. I wanted to talk to you about. You are shirtless in this picture as well but for the first time. You are showing your face to the camera. You're holding your son oliver in your wonderfully tattooed arms. You are looking into his eyes. As he's nursing you're both sumptuous and tender. and it's been described as a butch dyke madonna and child wondering. Was that your intention. I'm butch short hair but the body. The history of the body is very important in terms of of this portrait in the classical sense design matters. I mena thin you'll share it's called the chieftain chair is a chair. That in the house that i usually sat into nurse oliver so it was important to bring it back to the studio and then the red just again using that fabric with the gold threading and it is funny. Because i've finally just had my first trip to rome. I mean it's kind of crazy that i had borrow so much culturally from a certain history of of power in the roman empire especially in relationship to imagery but when i walked through the you know the gallery brigade easy from the cardinal burg as house and all of these other things and saw the wallpaper which i was using fabric backgrounds. It was funny. Because i knew that obviously through art history that those were tropes that i was using. But until. you're actually in front of something until you're actually bearing witness. You don't realize the influences. And it was. Madonna and child. And i saw an enormous amount of madonna child. While i was in rome. The catholic church representation of madonna child is one of the best marketing campaigns. Ever tell me more. Tell me more. And then all of a sudden to have the queer body be able to have a baby to be able to be butch to be able to live in their identity for the scarves pervert to still be existing on the body and so allowing you to begin to articulate and again look at that great marketing campaign of madonna and child in a very again different way. So how do we make something. Iconic that ends up culturally being able to engage in the construct of culture in itself through history. And those are things that i've always been interested in in terms of making work. It's fascinating to me. Yes absolutely did you realize at the time that pervert could still be seen. Was that intentional. Yeah i it's a scar it's there. It's slightly ray dill. Yeah awesome in twenty eleven several months before she died. You were commissioned by the actress. Elizabeth taylor to photograph her home in bel air. Los angeles how did that project i come about. Well she actually didn't commission me We actually shared the same accountant. Who's still my accountant to this day directly and derek for years kept saying you know elizabeth taylor is my client. If you ever want to do anything like i could. I could propose something to her. And i kind of looked at. I said well you. I not really do celebrity. And then i had done the body of working. Aw gration of going to d. c. for three days and baking body of work in a book and a portfolio out of You know The first ever elected african. American president in the united states. And i was thinking a lot about what. What is a portrait. How do we begin to think about a and i also had photographed quite a bit for dwell magazine which were portrait of people's incredibly interesting homes but inauguration is in conversation. I love having conversations with other artists in conversation with eggleston's election eve where he went around georgia and photograph. Just the landscape as carter was becoming president of the united states and then also eggleston photographed graceland after elvis passed and i was thinking about like okay. Those are two different kinds of portraits right. Those are really interesting ideas. And i've often used landscape in relationship to portraiture too and something that i'm profoundly interested in and so i went back to derek and i said yeah i wanna make portrait of elizabeth taylor through her home. Threw her belongings. And would that be something that you could propose. And i could get access to and so. I met with her personal assistant. Tim who i've become became very close with through the process because during the process elizabeth passed away while i was still photographing the house and And it was a profoundly amazing experience. I never met her. But i feel like in a weird way. I was granted kind of the last portrait of elizabeth taylor and it didn't have to be done with her before camera but it became much more intimate much more tactile in relationship to her home and the home was immediately dismantled and sold upon her passe. He photographed three thousand images of her possessions and her private spaces vanity table set with lucite containers of carefully organized eye-shadow in her sitting room. Her blue velvet. Sofas which i assume. We're supposed to be kind of like mimicking. Her is her christmas decorations which she specifically ask that. You do shoes and boots and more shoes. Her lavish close. And what was that like for you. How how did you feel doing that. It was really quiet. And i really appreciate quietness i would go in. The house was so soft lush. I lived in west adams it. I lived on a rowdy rowdy block. That was pretty much run by The gang the bloods and it was car racing and squealing tires and music and it was a lively lively neighborhood and all of a sudden i would a- gatewood open and i would go into this driveway. Go through this front door of a house. That was lushly carpeted a new kind of us such great descriptive terms but it became this place that i could slowly watch the light unravel in each room. I have time it was close to. Ucla's i would often go after. I was done teaching and spend the afternoon. They always offered me lunch. The staff was incredible. Her whole entire office was in her home. I really loved her cat. Fang fang and i became really good. Friends It was it was a reprieve from a lot of chaos. In my life that i could slowly unravel through a six month period In making a portrait and one doesn't normally make a portrait in six months. They make a portrait within. You know forty minutes with somebody visiting the studio. How would you describe. Elizabeth taylor through getting to know the objects in her life but she was passionate as a human being that Her objects held memories for her that they also were about her love of shiny sparkly things but that it was also a stuffed animal that somebody would bring over to would hold as much importance She was generous person in my mind and the generosity that she and her team displayed to me was obvious in in everything that was cared for. She was also really independent and savvy and understanding of a woman of her generation and when she was born that she could hold power and that also she can hold power with her voice as an activist and she was an activist at a period of time that we really needed yes and if she was the person who was actually able to get ronald reagan to save aides to say what was happening and that was her who did it as well as starting the early fundraising that within all the softness in the lushness there was utter power and a position of humanity that i just have enormous monitor respect for in one photo of elizabeth taylor's vanity. There seems to be a line written in lipstick on the colin and reads the quest for japanese beef. What is that about that line from colin farrell became very close with elizabeth and would visit elisabeth a lot and he went in her bedroom and bathroom mary after visiting her and wrote in her lipstick that he was going to take her out for japanese beef and so that remained on the mirror of because actually there wasn't any expectation of. I mean it was. I was getting ready for them to bring all the luggage out into the foyer because she was going to go on a trip to new york and i was going to have the opportunity to photograph what it looked like when she packed her bags for a big trip which would to according to her assistant. Tam was a lot of luggage. You know Because she could always wanted to have the you know choices around her. And then the next thing i heard was she was hospitalized. And then we rapidly tried to get the blue room together which is represented as one of the last moments in the book of this blue room. That almost looks like angel wallpaper because she was going to move back downstairs. She wasn't able to go up the stairs any longer and she would come home from the hospital to this room and it was described to what she wanted the room to look like and so we were racing around getting that done and i was still in the house photographing as all this was happening and then she passed and so the blue room you know never got to be realized with elizabeth in at and so. That's one of the reasons why it's photographed in that way as well as the jewelry abstracted was the day that christie's came to take the jewelry. Tim and everybody called me and said you know this last day that the jewelry is going to be in the house. Do you wanna come by. And so in the morning we came by with a son just gorgeous and we took a couch pillow out and we laid some of the jewelry on a couch pillow for just sparkle back to elizabeth. You know and. I made these abstract photographs that feel almost also like an image to her passing and strike me. Yeah so it was. Yeah it was one of those extraordinary experiences of somebody who was obviously one of the biggest famed. Hollywood movie stars But who also led an extraordinary life helping others. The last project that i wanted to talk to you about today. Is your twenty eighteen film. Your first film the modernist a twenty two minute movie containing eight hundred photographs about a frustrated artist who unable to buy their own. Homes starts burning down beautiful houses. And i believe that this is also. This film was also in conversation with another film that preceded it. That was also created with still photographs. Can you talk a little bit about that. Yeah that would be. Chris markers found lajja attache which was made pretty much. After you and i were both warrant was made in nineteen sixty two and the biggest fear in nineteen sixty two was a nuclear obliteration in relationship to the cold war You have to think about the cuban missile crisis. Another other things that were happening. Historically at that moment. In time. In which chris marker made lajja tae which is about love and longing and memory. And it's kind of like a pseudo sci fi film made out of stills but it's an incredible political poem to that time and I wanted to do a conversation in terms of that may be at this point in time. the notion of nostalgia and modernism as utopic. Dream has also failed us so using my good friend who i photograph for years pig pen aka whose whose name real name is stash feel piggy and i have a very very close relationship and i asked pig pen to star as the protagonist of this film and it was also the last piece that i made in my west adam studio behind my house because i had moved. Finally i was going to move to a bigger studio and so it is It is about the fact that i will never be able to afford a case study house or any kind of house which was supposed to be affordable at this point in time in which they were made at also mir's the time period of when logic was made and so it's a quandary. It's a quandary to where we are at this point in time but it also is a trans body. It's a queer body and we all know in terms of economics that one of the hardest economical groups's lesbians actually and order to be able to own property or prosper any way because we still do not have wage equality in this country so it was like trying to put in all these ideas of a lot of other bodies of work that i've mapped out all into one piece. Pig pen is one of the two most photographed people in your body of work. Yeah Can you talk a little bit about why you keep coming back to photograph them. Pig pen is just one of the people that i've just really really loved my life as a friend i mean i have gone through so much with pig pen. We have gone through losing so much in our community to performing together with ron eighty two. Just our bodies are are you know are entwined on a very emotional friend way. I would do anything for for pig. Pen and pick penn would do anything for me. And i think it's really really important to also say because it has been brought up in a number of interviews about pig pen being one of the most photographed people as house. One of my best friends. I'd axa Is that I think that a lot of people view this as a potential muse. And i don't view my friendships as muses or who. I photograph over and over as news. I might really enjoy looking at them. But by no means are they muses their friends that i'm i honor in relationship to kind of image making i i have a harder time with us notion of muse. That's interesting would never have occurred to me that that pig pen was your music. If if i had to pick anything or anyone. That was amused. You i would say it would be culture. Yeah exactly thank you for. Wouldn't have even occurred to me. What was it like. Was it different directing so to speak a film verses taking a photograph because it is a film made of photographs. I'm just wondering about that relationship here. No i think that it wasn't big and it was interesting. Because i have a longtime assistant heather rasmussen. Who's just amazing. And does everything for me and it was harder for her than it was for me because she was saying like. Do we need to store report this like. How are you going to do this. And i said it lives in my head. I can't necessarily. what am i going to do. Draw stick figures. Because that's about all. I can draw anyway and i said no this. This piece lives in my head. And i knew that i wanted to create a sense of multiple cameras. I knew that within the stills. I wanted it to. I wanted to rack focus and then bring things into focus. I knew that i to use the newspaper as a platform of what comes in our lives and how we deal with it. I also really well done by designer. I can say is good. And i knew that this was i knew that the protagonist was an artist who lived in their studio. And that's all that they could afford and through as they were making a peace peace extended with the incredible amount of fires. That always happened in california. To fire in itself is one of the most feared elements in california. We have major wildfires burning right now but what. It is in also in terms of notions of loss in a in ideas. Around what we all have lost through. You know Not being able to afford to buy a house to live on the fringe of one's ability in society. What modernism was supposed to apply than you have. Stores like design within reach. Which is you know all. We all know in our our joke of our community. It's designed with outreach. You know and whole foods is whole. Paycheck wholefoods is hall paycheck. So this idea that we could live this kind of utopic notion of what modernism was going to give us. This was also formed in relationship to devastation culturally and terms of world. War two it. Oh it's like when you think of who moved here and who was designing houses from schindler on it was really a even a brecht writing for hollywood films like that is so interesting to me as also as a as a place of loss angeles in what is iconic about the idea of a better healthier in. La is no longer affordable to live in the city. We have over fifty thousand people on house right now in the city. It's it's really quite astonishing to see what's happening in the parks and on the sides of highways in los angeles. It's just completely inconceivable that as a culture and a community we allow. This is devastating. And i needed to speak about that. And i didn't i you know. We all assumed that hillary would get rain. But i actually didn't have those assumptions. I actually saw all the percolation of what we went through in the last four years and i felt an incredible need to talk about the times that we are living in. You were recently appointed the departmental chair of the ucla department of art. Congratulations thank you. This comes after your appointment as the university's inaugural endowed chair in the art department observed. That was underwritten by a two million dollar gift from the philanthropists. Linda and stewart resnick. And i was really struck by the goals that you've outlined as department chair which include raising scholarship funds to ensure arts education is actually accessible to all students. Which seems like the real center of of what you hope to be able to do. Can you talk a little bit about what changes you're hoping to make to create more accessible education for students in the arts. Yeah no absolutely. I mean one of the greatest things bhai. Ucla has historically amazing art department. we are a public university being a public university. We do not have the same kind of funding opportunities in relationship to getting students. And it's getting harder and harder to get our top choices because we have places like yale who also then not only do full scholarships but then they actually do a stipend to live upon as well. I think that those who can afford an education should actually pay for an education but i am completely opposed to going into debt for education so i was very careful about my words in my interview in the la times where. I laid out my goals because my goal is that art students are able to leave with a degree debt. Free and in order to do that. I need to raise money for a scholarship to create a larger endowment so that we can accomplish that for both undergraduate and graduate students we need to further endow more positions in the art department and that is specifically for adjunct it is also unsustainable for adjuncts to be living in the way that they live now and i was adjunct for a long time. it is it is not sustainable not to have medical insurance and it is not sustainable for somebody to potentially live on twenty thousand dollars a year here in los angeles. That's not sustainable. So i'm really interested in sustainability in terms of also how much the adjunct community brings to the overall amazing education opportunity for both graduate undergraduate students and we need to celebrate that versus. Make it a detriment for them. And so by endowing more positions we can create an ability to potentially give two to three year contracts that include medical insurance and then we're allowing pool of really amazing young artists to be able to have their first opportunities to teach at a university like ucla. And then hopefully be able to gain employment in other places so it's a it's a two tiered thing in relationship to students leaving in debt but that also that we are kinder and more responsible to those who give us so much within the department held you manage your of pedological life with your art and life as an artist there. Are those clauses again right. I mean at this point it all seems like it just flows together. You know it really does. And i think i'm pretty good at time management. I have a really good assistant. Who really helps me. Extraordinarily and at this point the experience of making the work and the knowledge in relationship to what. I wanna make the experiences that i try to put forth to figure out what i'm making all feel incredibly fluid. They're not fraught. You know. I think that i would say that in the nineties and in my thirties i had more anxiety. And at this point i am beyond mid career artists. Because i'm sixty. And i've been making work in the art world for now thirty years and i think that i'm really just excited about the continuation of being able to talk about what i see around me during my lifetime and live out my life with the love of my beautiful family and friends. And i'm really. Hokey gonna cry about that right now because it is I worked really really hard. And that is the hard thing about having multiple closet so to speak as sometimes there were too many clothes and And i feel that. I'm i've been able to pivot and move and be aware in continued to feel that i'm tied into the things that are interesting for me and i have the incredible support of being able to have the longevity that i've had and relationship to being an artist and i wish that everybody had those kinds of experiences catherine. I have one last question for you. It's not particularly profound. But it is one that i'm highly curious curiosity. Is it true that you've been watching the soap opera days of our lives since you were sending sip of water. Sorry yeah yeah. I can tell you everything that's happening right now up to date with days of our lives. But it's like i am really have i can tell you about all the characters all the history of the characters. I'm a walking encyclopedia of days of our lives. And why what. Is it a diesel. We're lives you know something that i watched with my mom. I guess that they. I don't know they became another place of a dysfunctional family for me. Like all the drama. Like if that drama was the drama than do i have to think about my own dramas so to speak and then you just get tied up in a really dumb hokey way like and it's something that i could talk about with my mom. I guess today. I called her but this literally a conversation i had yesterday. Okay mom okay if lonnie is really the daughter of this character and abe is. The father does that mean that. They had sex when she was going out with when abe was going out with a sister like like that's like literally a conversation i will have with my mom. And she's like. I don't know elgible just have to see laugh to unravel so it gives a little touching point for my mom and i in this shared history of these characters in the life of salem and then i've run into the characters and l. a. And i even had one of the characters. Come to my studio first studio visit. And i've always wanted to make still lives. I'm putting it out there on design matters. Maybe you can help me make it happen. I would love that. I want to make still lives of the set of days of our lives. This is going to happen. You heard it here first listeners. Do you want the one with the hourglass hourglass. Yes yes y'all got. Yeah yeah and so are the days of our lives catherine opie. Thank you thank you. Thank you for creating such important extraordinary work. Thank you so much for joining me today. Just been an honor. An absolute honor thank you. It was a fantastic interview and really appreciate it. You can see a survey of catherine opie is working her extraordinary new monograph simply titled catherine opie published by feeding this is e seventeenth year. We've been podcasting. Decide matters. And i'd like to thank you for listening and remember. We talked about making a difference. We can make a difference. We can do better. I'm debbie nomin. Look forward to talking to you. Against design matters. Produced for the ted audio collective by curtis fox productions numb pandemic times. The show is recorded at the school of visual arts masters and branding program new york city the first and longest running branding program in the world. The editor in chief of design matters media is zachary habit and the art director emily.

Coming up next