Mike and Sky
Like many of Opie’s works, Mike and Sky presents female masculinity to defy a binary understanding of gender. The very practice of being photographed raises many complex issues around gender performance and the relationships between an inner self and an outer public persona. Even though Mike and Sky are cropped and obscure one another, many of their choices for self-presentation—as emphasized by their tattoos—remain visible.
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.