As I walk into Rineke Dijkstra’s retrospective currently on display at the Guggenheim, I am greeted by one of the photographer's most iconic images: an adolescent girl standing isolated on the shore. She looks shy and perhaps body-conscious; her fronds of hair, ruched sherbet bikini top, and stance remind me of Boticelli’s The Birth of Venus. This image is one of many from Dijkstra’s beach portraits, a powerful series of young beachgoers taken between 1992 and 2002.
Dijkstra, a Dutch portrait photographer and video artist, is known for her ability to capture intimate moments in the lives of young people. She often documents her subjects in states of transition, whether it be a physical or emotional phase. In the series Almerisa she photographed a young Bosnian woman over the span of a decade: from when Almerisa is a young girl until she is woman, holding her child. Presented as a series, the work's overall effect is heightened and Dijkstra’s intentions are palpable.
Spanning four floors, the exhibition manages to cover a large portion of Dijkstra's œuvre. My favorite series is The Bullfighter, portraits of matadors fresh from the bullfighting arena. Dijkstra captures the men in a paralyzed state, both weary and vulnerable. The photographs appear soft, using pale hues except for the punches of blood smeared across their faces, as well as their red neckties. Dijkstra shares these unguarded moments with us, inviting us to understand the relationship between the photographer and subject.
Through 8 October, 2012.
Images courtesy of Guggenheim Museum
SOLOMON R. GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM
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