After taking its annual “Spotlights” benefit virtual last year, the International Center for Photography welcomed an intimate crowd back in-person on Thursday.
This year’s event, which supports ICP’s scholarship programs and was sponsored by Christian Louboutin, took place over lunch at the center’s new home on Essex Street — and on YouTube, where the event was streamed live. Guests included Debby Hymowitz, Isolde Brielmaier and ICP trustees Peggy Anderson and Stefano Tonchi.
Since its launch in 2012, “Spotlights” has highlighted female talent in photography, and this year’s 10th anniversary benefit honored Los Angeles-based queer artist Catherine Opie. Young photographer Eljuan Henderson was also presented with the 2021 Christian Louboutin Scholarship, which was established last year to support students in ICP’s one-year certificate program.
Following opening remarks from ICP’s new executive director David Little, Opie joined writer and curator Helen Molesworth in conversation about her multidecade career and recent projects. Early in the pandemic, Opie purchased an RV (she named it “Lady Thor”) and set out to document the country following George Floyd’s murder.
“One of the things that happened to all of us during the time of pandemic is not just living in relationship to what happened with George Floyd, but also just the incredible frontal perspective of white supremacy in this country again,” said Opie, who turned 60 earlier this year. “I was looking at the news like everybody else; we were at home tied to our televisions,” she added. “When the social media images came up of the Richmond, Virginia monument of Robert E. Lee and it became an activist site I was like, oh, I need to go there — I need to bear witness. And I really think about photography a lot in relationship to bearing witness.”
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