Rineke Dijkstra

Collective Individuals

Judging by the way young people look today, you can hardly tell them apart. The trends that determine clothing and taste are international: the sun never sets in the realm of MTV, Nike or Eastpack. Each age is characterized by universal feelings and gestures. They arise when adolescents make important experiences for the first time: friendship, love or the wish for independence. As people grow up, their attitude toward others changes: their assessment of people and things becomes more realistic. And if the world, as a consequence, seems more threatening, then the young people simply close ranks. At the same time, their own characters become more pronounced and stable: adolescents develop their own style and language, they develop an awareness of themselves.

Anyone familiar with Rineke Dijkstra’s oeuvre will share the fascination with the phenomenon of “youth”. She photographed young mothers in the Netherlands directly after they had given birth, young matadors in Portugal immediately after the bullfight, in Eastern Europe she took pictures of young people on the beach, and in Israel of a group of girls. Yet Rineke Dijkstra feels it is important to view her pictures as portraits of individuals: she is not interested in depicting some abstract collective, but endeavors instead to portray each person as unmistakably unique.

Rineke Dijkstra is also interested in transience or, to put it more precisely, in people influenced by time. She prefers to produce series of her motifs: she portrayed the Israeli girls in intervals of one year, and the Bosnian refugee girl Almerisa in intervals of two years. Does she believe that in this way she gets closer to portraying the truth of a person? “Yes and no. A photo is always a kind of lie. Truth is only present for a matter of a fraction of a second.”

Biographical information

1959

born in Sittard, the Netherlands

1981–86

Gerrit Rietveld Akademie, Amsterdam

lives and works in Amsterdam