Though she first gained recognition for her portraits of the Los Angeles LGBTQ community in the 1990s, Catherine Opie has also produced a sizable collection of landscape photography—through which she tends to reveal places in terms that are no less politically charged than her documentation of queer bodies.
On view at Lehmann Maupin, “Rhetorical Landscapes” presents a new series by Opie that depicts the lush but imperiled Okefenokee Swamp, situated on the Georgia-Florida border. In her photographs, swampy terrain gives way to a placid, water-logged world teeming with plant growth and wildlife; however, as a wetland, Okefenokee Swamp harbors an ecosystem to which climate change represents an imminent, existential threat—one that has been further exacerbated as of late by the Trump administration’s rollbacks on a litany of environmental protections.
The show also includes several animated films that Opie describes as “political collages.” Each video tackles a different topic—from gun control to immigration to nationalism—explicitly framing the subject matter in terms of the nation’s current, fraught political reality.
Catherine Opie, Untitled #2 (Swamps), 2019. Pigment print, 40 x 60 inches. © Catherine Opie. Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul.