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Chosen Family Appeal

Show your support for Heide and the LGBTQI+ community with a gift towards the first Australian survey exhibition of internationally acclaimed artist Catherine Opie—help us raise $25,000 by Christmas.

The festive season is almost upon us, and for many people this means gathering with family, friends and colleagues. Our own concept of family has expanded over the years to include our ‘chosen family’: people to whom we may not be related by blood but with whom we share a kinship that goes beyond traditional familial ties. As you know, the ‘Heide family’ fostered by John and Sunday Reed challenged conventional notions of family too. This is a theme that runs through many of the works in Heide’s forthcoming survey exhibition by American photographer Catherine Opie, from April to July 2023.


Catherine Opie, Oliver in a Tutu 2004, C-print, 61 x 51 cm © Catherine Opie, Courtesy Regen Projects

Catherine Opie, Melissa & Lake, Durham, North Carolina 1998, C-print, 51 x 61 cm © Catherine Opie, Courtesy Regen Projects

Catherine Opie has an international reputation as one of the leading photographers of her generation. The exhibition at Heide, curated by Brooke Babington, traverses Opie’s early, recognisable works exploring constructions of gender and sexuality, through alternative conceptions of the nuclear household, to more recent musings on politics and collective action in the face of proliferating global crises. In 1994, Heide exhibited eighteen of Opie’s portraits in the exhibition Persona Cognita, curated by Juliana Engberg. That exhibition represented Opie’s first showing in Australia, and now almost three decades later Heide will host the first survey of the artist’s work in this part of the world.

While Opie is renowned for her portraits of members of her queer community in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the 1990s, the world around these works has since shifted seismically. Today, they may be read in light of contemporary understandings of gender and sexuality as more fluid, the limits of community and kinship as increasingly porous, and concepts of citizenship progressively more inclusive and accountable.

Opie’s remarkable body of work demonstrates a mastery of genres and photographic technologies, and offers an incisive commentary on personal and group identification within a broader cultural context of the norms and values of the ‘American Dream’. The artist’s community of marginalised queer friends, her scenes of LGBTQI+ domesticity, and portraits of relationships offer us a family album of sorts—in which connections extending beyond the traditional limits of ‘the household’ or ‘the family’ can be understood as bonds of kinship or families of choice.

Your tax deductible gift this festive season will help us to raise the $25,000 we need to stage this important exhibition at Heide. You can make your gift by clicking the button below. All donations over $2 are tax-deductible.

Our Development Director, Barb Taylor, would be delighted to provide further information about supporting the Catherine Opie exhibition, and can be reached on development@heide.com.au or 03 9850 1500. Thank you for your support of Heide. We wish you a happy holiday season with your family or ‘chosen family’ and hope to see you at the museum over the summer.

Catherine Opie, Self-Portrait / Cutting 1993, C-print, 76 x 102 cm © Catherine Opie, Courtesy Regen Projects

Catherine Opie, Divinity Fudge 1997, C-print, 76 x 152 cm © Catherine Opie, Courtesy Regen Projects

Current Exhibitions