Immagine: Emma (Rineke Dijkstra, 2008)
Traccia remixata: Bla Bla Bla (Gigi D’Agostino, 1999)
Rineke Dijkstra HonFRPS (born 2 June 1959) is a Dutch photographer. She lives and works in Amsterdam. Dijkstra has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society, the 1999 Citibank Private Bank Photography Prize (now Deutsche Börse Photography Prize) and the 2017 Hasselblad Award.
Life and work
Dijkstra concentrates on single portraits, and usually works in series, looking at groups such as adolescents, clubbers, and soldiers, from the Beach Portraits of 1992 and on, to the video installation Buzzclub/Mysteryworld (1996–1997), Tiergarten Series (1998–2000), Israeli soldiers (1999–2000), and the single-subject portraits in serial transition: Almerisa (1994–2005), Shany (2001–2003), Olivier (2000–2003), and Park Portraits (2005–2006). Her subjects are often shown standing, facing the camera, against a minimal background. This compositional style is evident in her beach portraits, which generally feature one or more adolescents against a seascape. This style is again seen in her studies of women who have just given birth.
Dijkstra dates her artistic awakening to a 1991 self-portrait. Taken with a 4×5 inch view camera after she had emerged from a swimming pool — therapy to recover from a bicycle accident — it presents her in a state of near-collapse. Commissioned by a Dutch newspaper to make photographs based on the notion of summertime, she then took photographs of adolescent bathers. This project resulted in Beach Portraits (1992–94), a series of full-length, nearly life-size color photographs of teenagers and slightly younger children taken at the water’s edge in the United States, Poland, Britain, Ukraine, and Croatia. The series brought her to international prominence after it was exhibited in 1997 in the annual show of new photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; in 1999, the museum showed Odessa, Ukraine, August 4, 1993, a color photograph of a teenage boy on a beach, next to Cézanne’s Male Bather (1885–1887).
Begun during Dijkstra’s residency at the DAAD, Berlin in 1998–1999, the Tiergarten series (1998–2000) shows portraits of adolescent girls and boys photographed in the Tiergarten park in Berlin, as well as in another park in Lithuania. Another series of works was commissioned by the Anne Frank Foundation in Amsterdam for their new building: portraits of adolescent schoolgirls with their best friends, a poignant reminder that any girl could be an “Anne Frank” in unlucky circumstances. These portraits were primarily taken in Berlin, though Dijkstra later expanded her subjects to include Milan, Barcelona, and Paris.
During a project documenting refugees, six-year-old Almerisa, whose family fled Bosnia, asked Dijkstra to take her photo. Almerisa was photographed approximately every two years. Firstly, at an asylum centre as a young child in March 14, 1994. The last photograph of the Almerisa series was taken in June 19, 2008. Thus began Dijkstra’s serial project, tracing her subject’s transitions through both adolescence and relocation from East to West Europe. Dijkstra uses flash along with a reduction of colour in this Almerisa series. She declutters the room completely so it is void of any superfluous details such as furniture and pictures on the wall. This provides a blank background. This technique is also used in other series, e.g. Beach Portraits.
One later series shows a young Israeli woman, Shany, in the series Israeli Soldiers (1999–2003) at stages over the course of a year and a half, is shown at her induction, twice more in her soldier uniform, and at home after leaving the army.
The Olivier series (2000–03) follows a young man, Olivier Silva, from his enlistment with the French Foreign Legion through the years of his service in Corsica, Gabon, Côte d’Ivoire and Djibouti, showing his development, both physically and psychologically, into a soldier. For the series Park Portraits (2003–06), Dijkstra photographed children, adolescents, and teenagers momentarily suspending their varied activities to stare into the lens from scenic spots in Amsterdam’s Vondelpark, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, Madrid’s El Parque del Retiro, and Xiamen’s Amoy Botanical Garden, among others.
Filmed in Russia and commissioned by Manifesta 2014, the video portrait Marianna (The Fairy Doll) shows a young classical dancer rehearsing in a St Petersburg studio as she prepares to audition for a place at the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet.
Dijkstra uses a Japanese 4×5 inch view camera, with a standard lens on a tripod, and a flash on another tripod behind it. Even when she photographed children on the beach she used this same setup, with a portable flash to reduce contrast and bring the faces slightly out of deep shadow, modulating the sunlight. However, daylight is always her main light source. In 1998 she started to print her photographs at the Grieger Photo Lab in Düsseldorf, Germany, two and a half hours by train from Amsterdam, where Thomas Struth and Andreas Gursky, among other European art photographers of large-scale prints, work.
Dijkstra has also experimented with video in works such as the two-channel projection The Buzzclub, Liverpool, UK/Mysteryworld, Zaandam, NL (1996–1997), Ruth Drawing Picasso, Tate Liverpool, UK (2009), the four-channel installation The Krazyhouse (Megan, Simon, Nicky, Philip, Dee), Liverpool, UK, (2009), and the three-screen video piece I See a Woman Crying (Weeping Woman) (2009-2010). For The Buzzclub, Liverpool, UK/Mysteryworld, Zaandam, NL, Dijkstra visited two nightclubs, the first in Liverpool, dominated by 15-year-old working-class girls; the second, in the Netherlands, a hangout for working-class boys with shaved heads, wearing matching hip-hop outfits. She set up studios in the clubs and asked volunteers to dance one at a time in front of the camera, the contrast between the girls and boys, each assertive and vulnerable in equal proportion, being a subject of the video. She made another video in 1997, Annemiek, which showed a shy, Dutch teenager singing a Backstreet Boys’ song karaoke style. For Ruth Drawing Picasso, Dijkstra simply trained the camera on an English schoolgirl as she sat on the floor, intently sketching a portrait of Dora Maar at Tate Liverpool. In I See a Woman Crying (Weeping Woman), Dijkstra used Picasso’s The Weeping Woman (1937) in the Tate Liverpool as the distraction device for a group of English schoolchildren, who were asked to describe what they saw in the painting which never appears on screen.