Mitchell-Innes & Nash is delighted to announce our first exhibition of photographer Catherine Opie. High School Football will feature large-scale landscapes as well as portraits, which will be on view for the first time in New York. Opie photographed the series from 2007-9 in locations around the country, from her current hometown of Los Angeles to towns in Ohio, Texas, Louisiana, Alaska, and Hawaii. Selections from this series were featured in Opie’s 2010 exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Figure and Landscape.
Opie has said, “The underlying basis of all my work has been about the structure of urban and suburban space and about how communities begin to form.” ("How I Think, Part I: An Interview with Catherine Opie", Russell Ferguson, 1996). In "High School Football", Opie bears witness to a community in transition, recognizing the vulnerability of the players at this moment between youth and adulthood. A stylized, masculine armature overlays the young players’ fragility, showing them as both warrior-like and boyish; they embody and elude the cliché of the fierce athlete. Likewise in the landscape photographs, as the locales in the distance vary from Hawaii’s mountains to Ohio’s parking lots, the rigid geometry of the fields creates a universal iconography particular to this American sport.
The High School Football series continues Opie’s exploration of American spaces and communities, and the rituals and visual codes that define them. In these new photographs, Opie mines the relationship between individuals and their collective identities. Like the photographs in her "Surfers and Freeways" series, these images depict uniquely American places and identities, teasing out the complexities of how the individual is both subsumed into and supersedes the universal.
Catherine Opie has exhibited widely in museums and galleries internationally. Her 2008 mid-career survey at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, "Catherine Opie: American Photographer", was accompanied by a major monograph. Recent solo exhibitions include the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Portland Art Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.