Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rineke Dijkstra

Proust coined the term  “involuntary memory”—in short a kind of memory that is not normally accessible like that ignited by his iconic madeleine. The Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra, a retrospective of whose work was recently exhibited at the Guggenheim, traffics in the visual equivalent of the concept, capturing visual moments that elude everyday perception. In a series of videos shot at the Liverpool Tate, she filmed a group of school children looking at Picasso’s Weeping Woman (l937). We never see the painting of Picasso’s wife Dora Maar, but we see the reactions of the students. It’s a little like the work of the Viennese photographer Thomas Struth who created a famous series of photographs of museum visitors. One particularly arresting image from the video is that of a young girl.  Her head is canted to the side in a look of distraction, perhaps her way of absorbing an unsettling image. It’s not surprising that Dijkstra is interested in adolescence to extent that it constitutes an awakening from the cocoon of childhood and thus contains many of these quiet epiphanies— in which subjects straddle the line between knowing and unknowing, innocence and experience. She follows the development of a woman from childhood to pregnancy. She records a member of the French foreign legion from his induction as a callow young man through his development into a seasoned fighter. She also captures subjects following exhausting activities—Bullfighters, New Mothers— in which they are totally bereft of self-consciousness. In Buzz Club and The Nugent R.C. High School, she identifies two different kinds of uniforms in trendy club dress and parochial school garb and the ways in which personality, like the butterfly born from the pupa, emerges from each.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.