Time passes. Memory fades, memory adjusts, memory conforms to what we think we remember.
– Joan Didion, Blue Nights
Thomas Dane Gallery is proud to announce the gallery’s second exhibition of works by Catherine Opie. Made over the last ten years on journeys across the United States and Europe, this body of work builds on the artist’s exploration of the metaphorical language of photography, continuing her dialogue with the Western artistic canon and further cementing Opie’s stature as one of the foremost documentarians of contemporary life.
Over a career now spanning more than three decades, Opie’s practice has encompassed social documentary of subcultures and marginalised groups, elegant portraiture of her peers and fellow artistic luminaries, abstraction, and the self-titled genre of ‘political landscape’ photography. After rising to prominence in the 1990s and establishing herself as a pioneer of queer representation – through studio portraits of close friends in the leather and LGBTQ+ communities, large format environmental portraits of lesbian domestic life, and her mesmerising and now iconic self-portraits – Opie has continued to focus her lens on wider but no less hard-hitting themes within broader geopolitical, cultural, and historical narratives.
The works in To What We Think We Remember act as a metaphorical framework for reflection: on the artist’s personal life, relationships, and work, but also on the fragility of humanity, the fractured ideals of a collective responsibility, and how to move forward while faced with the potentially devastating challenges of climate change, and the erasure of personal and political freedoms.
Opie’s reflection on the archive – prompted by the publication in 2021 of her Phaidon monograph – lends itself to an expanded approach to exhibition making and a break from serialism. The images in this poetic group forge deeper conversations between notions of freedom and confinement, as well as between abstraction and the limits of representation.