Alistair Fate (1994) depicts, presumably, a member of the LGBT community. Catherine Opie is known for her portraits of LGBT, queer, and outsider people; she intends them to come off not as shocking or different, but as human despite their deviance from societal norms. This image is one of several works by Opie in the Kadist Collection that show marginalized people, filtered through the artist’s signature appropriation of formal and classical portraiture in the interest of both documentation and reframing.
Since the 1990s, Catherine Opie has been recognized for her use of documentary photography to address issues of community and queerness, and the ways in which identity is shaped by architecture. Particularly resonant during the Culture Wars of the 1980s and early 1990s—a time in which the religious right tried to impose itself as a political force and cultural censor—Opie’s photographs privilege the representation of specific communities, whether the LGBT, teenagers, surfers, football players, or her group of friends who engage in sexual role playing, tattooing, and piercing.