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FALL PREVIEW / COVER STORY | Art

Fall's Fresh Faces

September 04, 1997|CHRISTOPHER KNIGHT

Catherine Opie, 36, social documentary photographer

Look for: An exhibition of Opie's L.A. landscape photographs at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Oct. 5-Jan. 4), in honor of having been named the first winner of the museum's Emerging Artist Award sponsored by Citibank Private Bank.

Why she matters: Opie first drew attention in July 1994 with her solo debut gallery exhibition at Regen Projects, which featured nearly life-size color portraits of male and female transvestites and transsexuals. The following September, her work appeared on the cover of Art issues. magazine: a devastating picture of the artist's naked back, into which a childlike stick-figure drawing of an American post-nuclear family had been carefully carved with a knife. Since then, her work has been included in museum shows in Los Angeles, New York and Europe.

A social documentarian, Opie has also photographed the perpetually provisional landscape of L.A., where transience and transformation are watchwords. Her MOCA show will consist of a suite of 40 images of freeway ramps and overpasses and five recent pictures of commercial strip malls, all black-and-white.

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