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by Rineke Dijkstra
Hatje Cantz Publishers, 2001
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Apr 18th 2002
This nicely produced book was published to accompany an
exhibition of the work of photographer and videographer Rineke Dijkstra at the
Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston in 2001. It has only 111 pages, and only about a half of those feature
pictures of Dijkstras work. It also
contains an essay by Katy Siegal and an interview with the artist by Jessica
Morgan, both of which are accessible and informative.
The aim of
this book is to provide a representative body of the artists work for US
audiences. Dijkstra was born in 1959
and lives in Amsterdam. She had her
first exhibition in 1984, and she has exhibited her work all over Europe and
the US. The subjects of her pictures
are from England, Portugal, South Carolina, Poland, New York, Belgium, Ukraine,
Croatia, and the Netherlands. Mostly
she takes pictures of young people.
There are four series in the book: Bathers, Almerisa, New Mothers, and
Bathers series is the most striking of the four. The camera is low, looking up at the subjects. Most of them are framed on their own,
although there are several small groups of two or three. Most of them are in their teens. They stare into the camera with a mixture of
alarm, confidence, and awkwardness.
Standing in their swimwear, they look vulnerable and are beautiful
despite their attempts to be fashionable.
Their clothes and hairstyles are the only clues that provide a context
to help the viewer. The essay and the
interview are eloquent about the meaning of these images.
pictures of young mothers are also powerful; two of them are used for the front
and back covers. Their faces combine
the freshness of adolescence with the weariness and pain of the experience of
giving birth. In contrast to the sleek perfection of the bodies in the Bathers
series, these mothers, some holding their new babies, have bodies that have
gone through a great deal.
images dont glamorize youth, nor do they pretend to show some awful reality
behind popular portrayals of teen life.
Theres no obvious agenda in these pictures, but Dijkstra has an obvious
empathy for the young people she photographs.
Despite giving only a small selection of the artists work, this is an
© 2002 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.
Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College,
Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review.
His main research is on philosophical issues in psychiatry.
He is especially interested in exploring how philosophers can
play a greater role in public life, and he is keen to help foster
communication between philosophers, mental health professionals,
and the general public.