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Catherine Opie: The provocateur who photographed Elizabeth Taylor’s home

Self-portrait 'Pervert' was Catherine Opie's most angry piece. In the photograph, Opie sits, bare-chested, facing the camera with the word pervert slashed into her upper body. Her arms are punctured with nails (46 of them) and her face is masked with a skin-tight black leather hood. 
She took the photo in 1994 when she was "very, very concerned with the first gay and lesbian march on Washington in which there was a division between the leather community and the gay and lesbian community saying 'we're normal'. They had created this binary of 'abnormal'.
"And that was hard for me and that is what pushed me to make that piece. It was like, 'OK I'm wearing the language that you're calling me on my body and I'm just going to sit here like Henry VIII in Hans Holbein's paintings and that's what you're going to have to deal with. Think about Holbein and you're going to have to think about this image'." 
The image was a double edged sword. Not only because it made conversations with her family challenging (at one point her sister-in-law refused to let her see her niece), but because it is perpetually referenced.
There's nothing queer about 'Freeways'
While a lot of emphasis is put on Opie's "queer" portraits, she's a photographer with impressive range. Her abstract landscapes, profiles of American footballers, snowy ice-huts, concrete freeways and the photos from President Obama's first inauguration are a testament to this.
While her "queer" work is hard to ignore, it shouldn't define her as an artist: "I remember someone called 'Freeways' queer work, and I was like, 'there's nothing queer about 'Freeways'."

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