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Catherine Opie
Introduction | Freeway Series | Mini-Mall Series | Beverly Hills Series | Portraits
Freeway Series

"I'm kind of a twisted social documentary photographer"

Untitled #40 The pictures in this series are a superb insight into the reality of Los Angeles, where Opie does a lot if not all her work. The freeways in LA are of great stature, wide, and amazing architecture. The superb looking curves look as though they merge into the down town areas of LA's high buildings and tower blocks. Opie captures the atmosphere superbly in the series very much the darker side of the city often a sparse area of LA when it's not rush hour, usually the space of the freeways are often immense, with 5 lanes on each side taking up vast quantities of LA on the whole. These amazing structures are situated mostly around the outskirts of the CBD with many leading off into the heart of LA. As with all Opie's work her sublime eye for basic symmetry to make each piece that little bit extra special often dictated the views' eye to where she wants them to look, but also in which order. What often seems like a simple composition by Opie is really genius planning to how she wants the picture interpreted and indulged. A very special talent and technique which enhances her work, but also how people view and think of it, the meanings of these pictures are certainly harder to contemplate in comparison to her other works, but the case of these pieces is to marvel in how Opie really is technically as a contemporary photographer.

Untitled #27 The superb curves which have been captured by Opie are the major eye catching areas of these freeway pictures. In this particular piece the sections which hold the actual roads up are vastly more prominent, their structure is simple and clean which is why Opie has included these as a major viewing point in the piece. The symmetry, such a massive aspect of Opies' work is apparent on the curves which go in opposite directions to each other in the centre, this sets a great foundation for the piece as all the other elements she has decided to include really do come together. The shadows which become apparent near the bottom of the piece as you look further into it becomes a much more detailed area of the picture, with the extra roads flowing under and through the heighten freeway. A great feature Opie has captured overall is the sky line running along the major road in the centre of the piece this foundation and quality of eye really makes this prints one of the most interesting pieces in this particular series. The sky line seems very light looking as though she is looking away from LA and the downtown area maybe catching the brightness as a meaningful vision into the life beyond LA where the quality of life isn't the greatest but is certainly different. Everything seems to fall into place compositionally and the added features which Opie has captured, the shadow, curves and sky line make the viewer want to look at every section with interest and anticipation.

Untitled #11 The gloomy feel in this picture is evident from the very initial viewing. The brownish tint of the print maybe a result of that but the busy looking picture and dark shadows that lay on the roads at the bottom of the picture really give a sense of atmosphere. Included in that must be the shadows that lurk on the right of the piece, the darkest area of the picture, which is seemingly covered with roads over head to create such shadow. The upright posts that are holding up the freeway are in sequence in the background of the picture creating an architectural type building with the similar space between them it almost looks like a bridge over water with the seeming curve of the freeway at the top of the piece so excitingly and cleverly captured Opie makes the simple picture of an LA freeway into an exciting journey of a roller coaster ride. The different angles and curves she has encapsulated bring amazing darkness' and lights to the viewers attention immediately. The composition immaculate the interest amazing and thought and time into the piece never ending. Opie really backs up the series with this picture as it's certainly of great thought and stature in regards to excellence and meaning. The busy looking roads at the bottom are there so you can imagine how it would look like in rush hour, cars, noise, fumes, anger, road rage everyday issues, everyday emotions all present in an metaphoric style atmosphere created by the mastermind of Opie with such simple composition and lighting.

Untitled #2 Most certainly the simplest piece in this collection, Opie has concentrated on complete, absolute control and divulged into the quality of photographic detail. The simplistic, clean, smooth picture adds another dimension to this certain series of pictures. Again as Opie's so often sublime at doing using shadow as an important part of the picture dark and light, creating the feeling of depth of field within the shot. Giving you a sense of scale and positioning the brownish tint adding to the lighting effect, the sky always seeming that much darker and you ask yourself the simple question, would these pictures/prints be so sublime and interesting in colour? Personally I would tend to disagree with that and say they wouldn't look anywhere near as good as they do in this style, it's apparent Opie has put time and thought into that fact. The picture doesn't reek meaning but it's an early shot from Opie and is very much of an experimental nature in this series, not a great deal of things going on in this piece but the basics of the photo is professionally done. It's a clever composition and interesting creation of atmosphere within the piece through some elements by Opie. The central piece being the structure which holds up the freeway strangely enough isn't the main attraction at first glimpse it's the lighting which drags you eye to the top right with the underside of the freeway. Unusually there's not much trace of symmetry in this piece but arguable the sky is in a symmetrical style, peeping out from the concrete structures.