Collection 1970s–Present

*Being and Having*

Catherine Opie. Being and Having. 1991 260

Inkjet prints, printed 2020; Each 15 1/2 x 20" (39.4 x 50.8 cm). Acquired through the generosity of David Dechman and Michel Mercure, William S. Susman in honor of David Allman, and Committee on Photography Fund. © 2023 Catherine Opie, courtest Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul

Artist, Catherine Opie: My name is Catherine Opie. I'm an artist who lives in Los Angeles, California.

Being and Having is thirteen photographs. They are all friends who are lesbian-identified, queer-identified, as well. We were performing masculinity, so each person has a fake mustache. They have bronze plaques like you would have on a trophy, and all of them have their nicknames. I decided to frame it really tight around the head, and you see every single detail. So when you get up into those images, you'll see the webbing and the glue of the mustaches.

I think that portraiture literally creates a history of one's community. Community is collective. Community is also where you feel potentially more at home or you develop a sense of family, especially if your own family might not have been a safe place for you to be in.

I was still in my twenties as I was making Being and Having. I wasn't a known artist, so for us, it was just like, “Oh, Cathy's part of the community and she's taking these pictures.” So to end up being part of a larger discourse and culture, these were never possibilities in our minds in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. I think that queer art is important and to be part of that history is something I'm very proud of. But I also don't want to be a singular identity.

It's a collective, always, that creates change. It’s really important to know that you don't have to just be alone in this world. There's all these other wonderful people to be in community with.