Rineke Dijkstra: A RetrospectiveExhibition | Rineke Dijkstra By Stephen Cedars
Artful awkwardness at the Guggenheim.
There are plenty of artists who exploit awkwardness for inspiration, but what sets Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra apart is the natural quality her subjects exude even in their discomfort. Dijkstra's midcareer retrospective at the Guggenheim presents, through 70 photographs and 5 video installations, representative samples of her themed series of portraits. What ties the myriad themes -- adolescents on the beach, Israeli soldiers exhausted from drill, new mothers soon after giving birth -- together is that these subjects all seem caught unaware, as though photographed between poses, which is ironic considering that her use of large-scale, crystal-clear prints reveals her precise and deliberate aesthetic. What emerges from this disconnect is a pervasive but imprecise sadness that, while often weakened by the more conceptual series like adolescents approaching clubs in overly similar clothing, is most powerfully apparent in her two series of young people throughout their lives. The most famous of these is her Almerisa series, which follows the life of a Bosnian refugee for over a decade as she grows into a young mother. Though the work certainly does deviate in profundity, Dijkstra's ability to find artfulness in awkwardness and depth in disaffection marks her as a major artist whose retrospective is highly worthwhile.
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