Rineke Dijkstra

1959 | Sittard, Pays-Bas
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Photographe et vidéaste néerlandaise.

Photographer Rineke Dijkstra attended the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam from 1981 to 1986, and in 1984 held her first solo exhibition, Paradiso Portraits, at the De Moor gallery. She began her career as a freelancer, producing portraits of artists, writers and business executives for magazines. In 1992 she launched her signature series of photographs of teenagers on a beach on the North Sea, which she pursued until 1996. Following her work in Poland and Ukraine she spread her net as far as the shores of the United States and Africa. Her oeuvre is characterised by ensembles of full-length frontal colour portraits, epitomised by the photograph known as Hilton Head Island, S.C., USA, June 24, 1992, which illustrates the cornerstones of her approach: the minimalist surroundings of an unidentified beach and ambient light enhanced by the use of flash. The shot, on colour negative film, was achieved by means of a darkroom and lengthy exposure. To complete the effect, the girl’s perplexed expression meets the photographer’s lens full on. Through this systematic technique, a number of expressive, social features are revealed, reproducing common, conventional, even stereotyped attitudes. The monumental size of the prints, coupled with the lack of staging, emphasises the vulnerability of these human beings, who are often portrayed alone. The documentary aspect of these photographs recalls the experiments of the Düsseldorf School and objective photography.

R. Djikstra also draws her inspiration from identity photos, although she stands apart in the solicitude she shows towards these models on the brink of transformation. Above all she is interested in her subjects’ emotional state, which she captures by taking photographs of toreadors immediately after their bullfight or portraits of women just after giving birth. Her respectful, self-effacing stance conjures up the photographic figurehead of Diane Arbus (1923-1971). Her work also reveals in its way a search for identity, particularly in the portraits depicting young Israelis, both in military uniform and in civilian clothes. By delving beyond the basic conformity implied by the uniform, she aims to reveal what makes that particular individual tick. The conditioning influence of the uniform is an integral part of her work. The artist released her first video in 1996, The Buzzclub, Liverpool, UK/Mysteryworld, Zaandam, NL, featuring teenagers dancing in clubs in both cities. Through her photographic portraits and videos, R. Dijkstra is questioning the place of the individual, “universal experiences” and concepts of identity and self-revelation.

Sixtine de Saint-Léger

Translated from French by Caroline Taylor-Bouché.

From the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices
© 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque
© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
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