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It.s ,4

,, - :-

qui s'y trouve represente et qui n'a rien de la noblesse convenue Te gofit de l'henre est pour le sujet
le familier; poui celui,
< sans qualit6s>>, le cormimii,
en somime, don.t on ne soup,onniait pas auparavant
qu'il puisse posseder cquclquie int6ret <photogenique>>. Artiste ncerlandaise nee en T959, Rineke
Dijkstra apparait significative de cetie exaltation
pour la banale figure hurriaine... en apparence.
A son avantage, et ceci parce que sa demarche
photographique appelle la lecoT. d'huntilitt, Dijkstra
fl6chit vers le sujet reconnaissable iason universalite, laquelle est nomi necessairerment perceptible 3
la surface de l'image, mais dans les revers de ses
personnages. Ce sujet, 3 lP'ievidence, fait partie dmne
connirunaut6, 3 entendre dans le sens metaphoriLiqUe
du terne. Conrine on dirait, par exemple, commiunaute d'inter6ts, de gofits ou de destin. Or, clhez
Dijkstra, mine expression comme celle de ocorrimnunaut6 de solitudes,> serait toute approprice. comptc
tenu que ses portraits exhibent davantage des etats
d'aime que des physiononies sp6cifiques. (Choisissant neamnoins des sujets non atypiques, chez qui
donc I on constalte un <<genre>,Ull temperalirent qgui
les distingue des autres, I'artiste 6voque toutel'ois
de potenlielles affinites collectives, voire corinunautaires, reperables dans certainis signes et attributs.
Rineke Dijkstra photographic de facSor privilegiee les jelines gar§ons et les jounes filles dont on
sent, chez les Uns et les autres, tine fragilite identitaire. Non pas que ces jeaunes personries soient destinees a iie jamai- s'affimner comrne sujet singtlier.
mais plutot qu'e}les se troLvenit precise'lnenL dans
cette zone de transihon ou elles tenterit one afflirmation, laquelle, a Inos yeurx, s'exprime sans assurance. )evarit no-Ls serible se construire un suiet
qui, sains le savoir, se mnontre dans son pro(essus
merne de construction. Darts The Buzzzelub, Liverpool, uK/PMyslterwvorld, Zaandawn, NL, utie video que
Dijkstra a produite drns uIn club en 1996-1997, les
adolescent-es, en r etrait de la piste de danse cl dans
ce quii semble etre une piece attenante, dansent
devant la camera avec un entrain onl une langueur
symptonatiques. Seul ou en. COUple, le jeunie s'abalndoite devant la canmdra oubliant curieus merit que
ce1te caamera est aussi am (ail qui le regarde, celui
de Dijkstra en l'occurrence. Eri realite, la camera
fait quasi-office de mniroir dans cc cas-ci, alors que
I(Icohil

O.POSI.F

ALMe,,-

A

a veritable
this

return to docutmentary-type portraililre,

new practice has occasionally bten coiripared.

to 'ninreteenth-century-style" naturalism. While indeed similar to large historical portraiture in ternis
of fo-rmiat and the mnodel's pose, these photograph.s
are norietheless diffcrent in termis of the "subject"
represented, bereft of the requisite decorum. 'i'he
flavour of die hour is the subject 'without qualities,'
the common. thc f'amiliar - in short, what had never
previously been suspected of'possessing the slightest "phiotogenic" interest. Born in 1i959, Dutch artist
Rineke Dijkstra appears representative of ihis tendency to exalt the coimmonplace human figure. But
appearances can be misleading.
'lo her credit - and for the simple reasonr that her
photographic practice calls for humility - Dijkstra
tends toward what is universally recognizable in the
subject, which, though nol, necessarily perceptible
oni the surface of the image, is revealed unbeknownst
to her chaiactters. This subject is evidently part of a
conmiiiun.nitv

understood in the metaphorical

sense of the term, as when one relers, for instance,
to a cominninity of interests, or taste, or destiny. In
Dijkstra's case, however, it is above all a "commiunity of solituides," given that tier porlraits exhibit
More of'a feeling tuha aiiy specific physiognomies.
Nevertheless, by choosin.g subjects who are riot
atypical, and thus in whorm, a "genre" can be noticed
(that is, a temperament distinguishing them from
suggests potential
others), the artist nevertheless .i.e
collective - or even commumntarian - affinities that

can be detected in certain signs and characteristics.
Rineke Dijkstra photographs primarily adolescent boys an.d girls in whorrm a fragility of identity
can be sensed. Not that thlese young people are
destined never to assert t:hemnselves as singular
subjects; rather, they find themriselves in that very
transitiorn zonie where they strive for an assertion
which, to our eyes, lacks assura nce in its expression.
Before our eyes, anid quite iuself-con.sciouisly, we
see subjects constructing themselves revealing
themselves in the very process of self-constructio.
in 11te B'zzchlu, Liverpool, IJ. / Mysveryworld, Zaandam, N., a video Dijkstra produced in a club in £99697, teenagers, away from the dance floor in what
seems to be an adjacent roorm, dance in front of the
camera withI symptornatic gusto or languor. Alone
, ic
T

NrT>KH:AND5,

fL6NF7t

46.

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20,. tsal,,.M.IT1 vc

ce miroir ferait decouvrir a celui qui s'y regarde tine
image inedite poir hli-rmnme. Un miroir, en fait, qui
renverrait urie image aux prises avec le jeu: inconscient de la s4duction. A travers cette cam6ra, c'est
un peu lui-menme que le jeune regarde et aussi luimcme qu'il tente de charmiier. Mais differemment
de Narcisse qui s'embrouillail dans cc qu'il croyait
btre l'image d'un autre mais qui s'averai:t la sienne,
l'adolescent n'est pas tout a fait face 3 lui-mt-me
devant cette camera. rt ccci non seulernent parce
qi'il s'agirait de celle de Dijkstra, mnais plut6t parce
que l'image qu'il montre en est une qu'il <travaille>t.
Elie est en construtioni, telle unie identite a se
faire, mi sujet a se definir. Ei donc par consequent
une identite ui lui 6chappe encore'. (Ou alors estce peut-etre le propre de l'idendite adolescente,
voire de tous, que d'letre continOment a se faire.)
Ces figures d'adolescents, et pr(cisernent telles
que Dijkstra les capte, montrent l'image d'une appartenance aiin groupe, une communaute potentielle,
dont la particulan*it r*siderait (tans le rasserinlement
d-individus a la fois 6minemment semblables et
distincts. Necessaire dans ce cas-ci, la distinction
est recherchee et «en d6ronstration>> precisenien:
parce qu'elle penrnettrait le passage au monde aduilte
et au mionde en g6neral. La dififrence prenant place,
elle normaliserait ainsi le it uel de [Iinscniption de
l'identite diu jeune dans urie comnmuraute en devenir, el ou l'on saisirait, paradoxalement, une volonte
d'identification a l'autre, de meme que l'envie r6elle
de prot6ger les limites qui nous en separent.
Dans The Buzzcluh..., la transition des adolescents vers ce que l'on nomme la <<matunite du sujet»>
se manifeste a travers divers accessoires, tels nme

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or in coluples, the youing people let themselves
go in front of the camera, curiously forgetting that
an eye - Diikstra's eye. as it happens - is watchinlg
thiem. In fact, in this work, the camera acts almost
as a mirror - except that. this mirror provides whomever is gazing at it with an utterly new image. This
mirror, in fact, returms to its viewer an image grappling with the unconscious play of seduction.
Throuigh the eve of the camera, it is 1o some extent
themnselves that the youlg people are looking at just as it is themselves thley seek to charm. Bul as
opposed to Narcissus, who confiused whiat he thought
to be the image of another witi what turned out to
be his own image, the adolescents are not exactly
facing themselves as they face the camera. And not
only because it happens to be Dijkstra's camera, but
rather because the image thev reveal is one which
they are still "working on." An image unider construction, an identity to be created, a subject still to
be defined. And, consequenitly, an identity which,
for the time being, continues to elude them. (Indeed,
what is perhaps the defining characteristic of teenage
identity - or even of identity as sudi - is to be continuo0islv under construction.)

These teenage figures - the ones captured by
Dijkstra at any rate - reveal a picture of group belongirg, of a potential commrunity, whose particularitv resides in bringing together individuals at once
errunently alike and distinct. Necessary in this particular case, the distinctionl is sought after and °demonstraied" precisely because it allows for the passage
from the adult world to the world in gencral. As
difference begins to assert itself it will tend to normalize the ritualized inscription of the teenagers

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" .J

cigarette, ine gomme a macler, 1'alcool, et evidemmient les vtejnents quli inouIs laissent pressentir
un.e selection hautement r6flechie. Or, ces accessoires, relativemenit rninimalistes, participernt Aileur
maniere a l'expression d'une affir-mation. Bien pen
de choses, pensoris-nous, mais c'est cc ~<peu>> - a
certains endroits exacerb6 - qui, pr6ciseaent, nou.s
fail voir avec justesse i'instabilite du jeurne. S'ajoute
Acela une facon st6reotypee d'user de ces accessoires, qui se retrouve egalernent dans la mauliere
mcme de danser. En fait, c'est que cc <<peil> et ces
manii&res sont utifises avec une maladroite theAtralite potentiellerment responsable dii caractere quclques tbis amusant de la scene. Pour nouis qui assistons a cette mise en scene d'un sujet en devenir,
il y a risque d'etre charm& mais egalement risque
d'etre incommode, car le constat de la fragilit6 de
l'atitre peut a tout mornent verser daus l'ind6cence.
I.e glissement vers l'artifice, le d6rapage potentiel
vers ce qui tie s'affirme qu'en apparence, sanis profondeur, sans conviction, est immirnent. Ou alors
on sc laisse attendrir, ce quLi nous apparait plu.s
aiseet natuirel.

u..'.! hv,,

-,Ltm/vSTrRv

1WcThLt',
ZAA1N
.Q..
AM

196-1997
19C,

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identity into a comnmunity still coming into being,

where, paradoxically, it is possible to grasp the will
to identify with the other, as well as the real desire
to protect the limits keeping uis apart.
In The .Buzzclub, the teenagers' transition toward
what might be referred to as the "subject's maturity" is manifested through various accessories, including cigarettes, chewing gun, alcohol, and of
course tile clothes which hIit at having been the
object of a highly self -conscious selection. 'rThough
relatively minirmlalist, these accessories all play a
role in expressing an assertion. Not much to go on,
you rnight say; but it is precisely this 'not much" exacerbated in some places which enables us to
see plainly th.c teenagers in all their instability. On.
top of whiclh there is the stereotyped way of using
these accessories, whicd also comnes out in how they
dance. It is the way this "inot mitch" and its mannerisrns are used with such awkvard theatricality
that potentially accounts fbr the scene's sometimes
amnusing claracter. As we watcih the staging of these
elnerging subjects. we are liable to fall prey to their
charm, but also to be bothered bv it, because the
observation of the fragility of the other is prone at
any momnent to topple into indecency. The shill: toward artifice, the potential slip into what is asserted

21

22r

i

i

iCs

zN

La commuNauire des corps
Le regard de i)ijkstra parvient a extraire de l'Autre,
diu coips de i'Aiutre. sa <<physicalit6>, Cest-k-dire
ses caracterisfiques physiques quli sont a se d&velopper et clue l'on percoit, partant (Ie cette <<aclivite
physique>, dans la f6brilite qui s'en degage. l.'artiste avoue d'ailleurs trds siiuplemiiert qiLe c'est la
vulnerabiite de lPadolescent qiui i'atrire au ptemier
abord et qui gen&re, tout compte fLit, cette curieuse
ressemiblance entre lous ces personntages. A certains
endroits, par exemnple, la vuln6rabilitc de l'adolescenit
se sent jusque danis les pores de sa peau ros,e'.
C'est, en sommiien veritablement le corps qui a la parole chez Dijkstra, et ceci sanls qu'il Ilii soit necessaire dc se nianifester vigourcusenenLt. Sa seule
prdsence, integree dans un decor minimal, suffit
a signifier une sorte d'abandon devant la canetra
de lartiste. Eritre elle et luti, on sent l'accord tacite.
D'autan:t qie le jeine sait qu'il est photographie.
1e regard qu'il ten.d vers la photographe et vcts nou.s
est direcif F'in mr me temps qu'i est absorbe, et consequenmment fragile, empechant ainsi l'arrogance
de prendre place. Toute febnle que soil: I'inage dii
sujet-mod'eic, elle n'6carte pas pounr autant ta dignitt
avec laquelle il semble s'affirmer.
Dans le cas des photographies des jeunes partnrientes (4lhe Den Tlaag, 'Ihe Netherlands, February
29 [i994I), la fragilite prend plut:t lapparence de
l'affaiblissement de l'epuisement.. Photographi6es
quelques moment s apres laccouchement:. ces femnmes mont:rcnt encore les signes d'un difficile passage. Entre l'enfant et ladule, entre la fille et la
femnmle, entie la vie protegee de l'emrbrvon et celle
nsqu6e du nouveau-n6, l'cart est ici rendu perceptible ci avec graande sensibilite3. La maturith ii'est
jamais chose laite chc7 Dijkstra. De nurme qie l.a
resohltion de l'identit6 n'est jamais accomplie.
Partticuli&rement depouillees, et ela memnc si ses
sujets se retrotivelit dans un d6cor reperable Ies
photos de lijkstra sernblent cvacuer le ternps et
l'espace. Dans un pr6sent arrcte dans a.-inmoment
choisi darts un entre-deux qiui laisse entrevoir un
avant et un apres, qu'un transit est irnm.inent, la photoaraphe fixe le temps visible dii frauchisseinient.
A:utant l'identitc du mnodele n'est pas fixe et se
inionitre cliancelante, autant cette incertitude, cette
fragilite du suljet, se fait-elle voir avec eloquence.
j

;,

Of.

in appearance alone - in otlier words, lacking both
depth and convictioni is impendinig. Eithe.r that,
or we allow ourselves to be moved - w'hich seem.s
the easier and mo e natural course.
A CommuNoxy of Bodies

Dijkstra's gaze manages to pry loose from the
Other - from the body of the Other - a "physicality"
- that is, a set of physical characteristics which have
to be developed and which can be perceived in the
' physical activity," the very feverishness tde body
gives off Tie artist, moreover, freely confesses Tliat
it is the adolescents'vulnerability which primarily
atitracts her and which generates, in dtie final analysis. thle curious similarity beltween all her subjects.
In certain pivcs for inistance, the teenagers' vulnerability is such that it seerns to seep from the
very pores ol' their rosy skinv 2 In sliort, it is truly
the boc0y wlbich speaks in Dijkstra's work - without
there beinmg any need lor it to vigorously call alien<tion to itself in order to do so. Its mere presence,
integrated into a minimiial backdrop, suffices to
signify a sort of abandon in front of the artist's
camera. Between camera and body, a tacit agreemelt call be felt. All the stronger that the adiolescents
know they are being photographed. rie gaze they
hold foth- to-ward the photographer an.d the viewer
is directive. And at the s-am.e time. it is absorbed,
and consequently fragile, thus inhibiting any arrogance fronti setting in. As feverislh as the subject's
image may be, it never strays froin the dignity with
whicll it seems to assert itself
In the phiotographs of the youmg parturients
Uuiic Den Hlag, The' Net herilands, ebruary 29 ['9c94),
iragility enLds to take on the appearance of weakening anid exhaustion. Pholograpihed only morients

after givinig birth these women still evince the signs
of a difficult passage. The gap between th.e child and
ihe adult the girl and thc womauii betwveen the protected lie of the fo-tus and thie precarious existence
oif the newborn, is made perceptible with great
sensiivity.3 Maturity is never something given in
Dijkstra's work. Just as the resolution of identity
is never consummated.
Particularly pared down - even in. those cases
where her subiects are shown in a recognizable setting Dijkstra's pictures seein to evacuate time
N

Flllj

I' 2,9. '994,

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Trop evidente, en fait, pou.r queulle ne designe pas
les pench.ants de Di)jkstra pour le statut par nature
claingearnt de l'identite.
Le travail de Dijkstra semble, en effet, re]ever de
cette maniere de pensee qui voil la representation
de ]'identite difficilemnerit configurable. Depuis les
anne.es qulatre-virigt, diverses d6signations ont qualifie cette «identit6>». Flle a ett due
d rouvarte, fuyante,
iloue ou nornade par exemple, pour reprendre ic
l'expressi.on longuerrient elaboree par Rosi 13raidotti4. Or, cette figure dti nornade - bien que l'expressiort soit quasi galvaud6e maiitenarnt - demeure
la plus juste dans ce coutexte-ci, parce qii'elle condense divers questionrnements souleves par la photographie de Dijkstra. Figure theorique potentielle
du sujet contemporairn, touijours selon Braidotti, le
nomade est appele a revoir sori territoire et ses origines; il est fait de perpdutels changemenits, de
transitions constamment reconduites et cons6quemment toujours a fonder son identite. Une identite
qui resistera a la dtfinition... <'as a performative
Image,>, dit encore Braidottli (p. 7), alors qu'elle
ajoute plhs loin: Ildentity is a retrospective notion»>>
(p- £4), signifiant ainsi que la vie se deroulant, I'identite se precise et se complexifie du mrrlne souffle
et n'est donur jainais <(figurable>>. Comme si ellc
ne pouvait Mtre quA I'i.image d'im bilan dont le resultat demeurerait a jamais .ticoriiu. Irrprevisible,
elle ne pourrait se dcfinir qua. partir de ce quhi s'tst
passe; e jarnais de ce qui reste a venir.
A plusieurs reprises, on aura cormpare ses portraits de bord de mer (1992-1996) - tOujouIrs faits
aver l.a figure de l'adolescent -- a la celebre VWnus
de Botticellli. Et l'on pourrait egalem:ent evoquer la
Ve$nus Anadyomene d'Ingres, dans le cas precis de
Koiorbrzeg, Poland (1992), alors qule ce.le-ci se dehanche avec urie fluidite typique du peintre classicoroniantiqu.e. Dans ces photos, les jeutnes proviennent
de divers pays5 , nlais toujomirs ils font dos a une rmer,
seuls, en duo ou en trio, el cette fois-ci sans auttes
<<accessoires> quie leurs vetements de plage. A l'evideuce, cette quasi-nudit6, coinbinec avec i'ailiure
frtle de leur corps, les rend vuln6rables. Tels des
rebelles saris dtefnse, ils arrivent mal Aattester d'tune
resolution identitaire. Tonis difftrents, ces jerines
se rejoignent neamnoins a travers ce corps qu'ils
«<partagent>» et cettc pose qui leur est: probaliemenit
PAc.FSSUIVANIES

C:i -CONTP -.0

FOLOWING
PAC A.M.
L' .. S. WO,MR.

and space. in art arrested present, in a closeni momerit, in the in-betwveen which affoirds uIs a glimpse
of bothl the before and after - suggesting that a tranSition is imS
ranent - the photographer freezes the
visible time of the passage.
Just as the model's identity is not frozeni and is
shown to be wavering, unsteady, this very uncertaint.y - the subject's fragility - is brought to light
with eloquence. All too obvious, in fact, for it noi to
designate l)ijkstra's penchants foi the naturally
clanlging status of identity.
Dijkstra's work seems, indeed, to sten from
that line of thought which sees the representation
of identity as being difficult to configure. Since the
1980s, this variety of "identitv" has been described
in various ways. it has, for instance, been said to
be in motion, fleeting, fuzzy or nomadic, to use
Rosi Braidotti's much theorized term.4 And though
the expression has subsequently becoine almost.
hackneyed, this figure of the nomriad still remains
the most accurate in this particular context, in that
it condenses various lines of questioning raised bv
Di.jkstra's photography. One of the contemporary
subject's potential theoretical figures - to pursue
Braidotti's notion - the nomad has been called upon
to take another look at his or her territory and origins; the nomad is made up of perpetual changes,
conlstantly renewed transitions - and is, consequently, iorever founding his or her identity. An
identity which resists deiiniitioni "as a performative
image," as Braidotti puts it (p. 7), adding: "identity
is a retrospective notion" (p. 14). in other words, as
life unlfolds, identity becomnes at once more precise
and more complex, without ever becoming "figurable." As if it could only echo a survey whose outcome would remain unknown. Unpredictable, it
could only be defined front what nas come, and
never frorn what is to come.
Dijkstra's seaside portraits (1992-96) - again
usirng the figure of tde teenager - have often been
compared to BotticeIli's Venus. And one could also
iiertion ingres' Venus Anadyornene, particularly
with regard to Kolorhrzeg, Poland (£992), which
sways with all the fluidity of the classical-romnantic
painter. In these photographs, the young people are
froTm a variety of countries,g but always witl, their
backs to a sea, alorie, in twos or thr ees, and this time

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suggeree et qu'ils <<executent>>, et il nous semble
bien maigre eaux, avec le nimee naturel force.
Dans le m&me esprit que sa vid6o Buzzcclub, ces
photos, aUX titres diescripteurs des endroits ou les
jeunes gens se trouvent, inontrent des ports de corps
qui trahissent l'assurance dont ils voudraient faire
preuve. A i'6vidence, cc corps leur 6chappe; ils
Ii en ont pas le parfait contr6le, ce que, pourtant,
ils cherchent grandement a laisser croire. Et c'est
precisement dans cc jel ofi la mise eu scene se
contibnd avec leuir r6alite d'adulte <<en coursI> que
leur pose nous est sensible. On. petit, en effet, s'y
reconnaitre. MWrie au-delA des cultures. Et c'est: ce
que Dijkstra recierclhe, d'une certaine fafon, en
choisissant ses modeles e. fbonction des points de
jonction qui les fusionnentu
AutorepreSeNEaTioN et emparhie

Frequermment compar6e a Diane Arbus - et A
August Sander 6galemcnt, dont elle poursuivrait
la tradifion photographiquie du portrait - Dijkstra
s'ren (carte toutefbis. Si Arbus s'est mnontree singulie6rement fascin6e par le hors du commun dans le
commun, DijkstTa, cluant a elle, s'interesse plutdt A
i'universel dans le communi. A la fois a la recherche
de ce qu il y a de personnel et d'individuel chez la
personne qu'elle photographie, etle desire neanmoimis y retrouver egalement un caractere universel.
C'est, en effet, ce qi'elle soutient dans la plupart
des entretiens qu'elle accorde. Si bien que mtine
alors qu'elle portraiture, comme on ie disait si bien
des grands portraits d'histoire, elle rejoint si intiimeinent, si universellemrtent, son. mod0le qule c'est
elle, tout compte fail, qu'elle autorepresente. Le
phenomene n'est pas nouveau; niais il se montre
ici avec d'autres nuances. Ce n'est pas, par exemiiple, parce que l'on reconnaitrait le style de Dijkstra
a travers ses modeles et ses miises en scene que ses
oeuvres photographiques deviendraiceit des auito-

CI.-CONr,E

-C)p-oISJ

TF

:02. 29

with no oilier "accessories" tlan their beach gear.
Obviously, this quasi nakedness, along with their
frail-looking bodies, makes them. vulnlerable, like
defenceless rebels, Ihey have a hard tirne vodliriing
for the resolution of their identities. All diflerent,
these teenagers neverthleless come together through

the bocly they "share" and the postures which have
no doubt been suggested to them and which they
all seem to "carry out" in spite of themselves, with
the same forced spontanieity.
Along the same liines as the Buzzrlub video, these
photographs - whose titles describe places where
young people hang out - show a forn of-bodily
bearing and carriage which betrays the self:assurance which the teenagers are at such pains to display. Evidently, their bodies thwart their control;
they lack the perfect control over tiieri, which they
are so set on convincinig IIs of And it is precisely in
this play --where staging is confoinded with the
reality of their "up-and-coining" adulthood - that
their poses strilke us as touching. For in thenm, we
can recognize ourselves. Above and beyond cultural
differences. And that is to some exteilt what Dijkstr a
is after, in choosing her models on the basis of the
unrction points which bind them togetler.
Self-RepresemauoN aNd Empathy

Often compared to Diane Arbus - as well as Auguist
Sander, pursuing as she does his photographic portrait: tradition Dijkstra nevertheless diverges from
them iii certain respects. Whereas Arbus was particularly fascinated by the incommon within the common, Dijkstra is more interested in what is universal
in the commrlon. [ooking for what is at once personal
and individual in the person she is photographing,
she also looks for their universal character. And,
indeed, that is what she has emphiasized intmost
of her interviews. To the extent that even in her
portraiture work - as has been so aptly pointed out
OA1IIN,
E

Fl LIN,.uN.

199

30. 9

-

portraits. Mais parce qu'ede developpe une empathie
envers ces adolescent:s qui l'incite ailes photographier pour ce qu'elle pourrait, le temps precis de la
pose, partager avec euix. Ce faisant, ellee dimine en.
qiielque sorle la distance entre elle et son. modele.
Diffrerrnmeni: peut-etre encore de Diane Arbus. la
camera de Dijkstra s'engage dan.s un rapport aiu
miodtle ou, justement, le rapprochement est plus
que voulu, il est de prime abord recherche, et jusquie
dans les malaises identitaires que le jeunle inodele
laisse pressentir.
Ainsi si l'identite de l'adolescent est a se constTmire, celle de Dijkstra, voire de tout homme ou de
toute femme, ne l'est pas moins. Et c'est a ce titre
que l'artiste rejoint encore plus intimetrnent les
preoccupations de son modele. Pointant de facon
recurrente le sujet <<in progress>, elle montre les
elans qui l'habitent, le.faisant s'approcher ou s'ecarter de la nonnie. Necessairement, s'etablit une circulation entre hImi/elle et les autres, enigageant un mnouvemenit, line propension a deveni.r conime i'n,
comme l'autre. Ce qui tine nouvelle fbis rapproche
Nomadic beDijkstra de la pensee de Braidotti: <<
coming is nei:ther reproductioni nor just imitation
but rather emphatic proximity, intensive interconneccedness>> (p. 5).
Loin doic dce se faire intnisif, la±l photographiqule de Dijkstra s'investit danis une compricrension
de son niodee, voire unte identification a celui-ci, a
la fois physique et existentielle. Et, de fait, elle entraine tgakcment le regard dii spectateur danis in.
sentiment d'empathie envers l'adolescent. L'autorite du photographe s'eclipse ici rarnenra.t avec elle
toute inipressioni de voyeurisme tice an modle.
A cet: 6gard, le ibrmat grandeur nature contribue
a etablir un rapporT d'galit6 entre les deux sujets
et fait que c'est d'egal a egal qie traitent les deux
regards.
I.es photos et videos de Rineke Dijkstra sont des
ortuvres otl un d6placemient se produit entre le mioddle et le regard et qui n'a pas les inconvenances
de I'epanchemre.nt. Contrairement .i ce que d'autres
en disent, la compassioni ni'advient pas comime
reaction emotive prerniere chez Dijkstra. Les (2uvres
sont 6mouvantes, mais noni aflligeauteS. All:t}le[tiques, miais non ostentatories ni presorriptueu ses.
Et s'i} y a deplacemrent de l'nn a l'autre, de l'un vers
lautre, c'est qie tli l'un ni l'autre, tout compte fait,
ne sait exacternent qui il est, in dans quei nionde
il vit:.

with regard to the grand tradition of historical portraiture -- she merges so intimilately, so uniiversally
withl her model t3hat, in the final analysis, she ends
ulp producing self-portraits. The phenomenoln is riot
new; but it inani fests itself in. her work with fresh
nuances. It is not, for instanice, because Dijkstra's
style can be recognized in her models and staging
that her photographic works become self-portraits.
But. rather because she develops an empatlhy toward
the teenagers, which leads tier to photograph thlei
for what she can share with them. - for the duration
of the sitting at any rate. In so doing she breaks dowvn
the distance between hel model and herself Differendy, perhaps, from Diane Arbus, tde relation Dilkst ra's camera establishes with the model, the corning together it brings about, is not merely desired,
but is .frstof all soughlt out - even in the identityrelated uneasiness that the youi.g models exude.
Thi.s if the teenagers' identity is still to be constnicted, Dijkstra's owII identity - or even that of anv
man or woman - is to that samie exten t open-ended.
And it is in tlis respect that the artist merges still
more intimately witl the preoccupations oFher models. Pointing in recurrent fashion to the subject "in
progress,' she reveals the 61an whichl inhabits the
cmerginig subject as it emulates or challenges the
norm. A circulation is necessarily established between the subject and the others, giving rise to a
mnovement, a propensity to identify with so and so,
or copy suchi and such. Which points to a further
affinitv between Dijkstra's work and Braidotti's
thought, when the latter writes: 'Nomadic becoming is neither reproduction nor just imitation but
ratler emphatic proximity, intensive interconrnectedness" (p. 5).
Far, therefore, from being intrusive, Dijkstra's
photographlic eye engages in a relation of understanding - even identification - withl her model,
which is at once physical and existential. And, in
fact, it gives rise to a feeling of enipathy toward the
teenager in the viewer's gaze. 1lere the photographer's authority is eclipsed, taking with, it any sense
of voveurism toward the model. In this respect, the
life-size format contributes to setting up a relation
of equalitv between the two subjects and makes
the relationtship between the two gazes a relation
between two equals.
In Rineke Dijkstra's photographs and vicleos, a
displacement takes place between the m.odel and the
gaze, which has niorne of the impropriety of effusive

C
...

I 3txk5

_T

sr
...

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k

PI'')TO< lRFI
Cr
P
F
sp:EIt
I,FA3
FcS,,1, 1992 1996
A, LtiI IOS n).l" U.erisP." 5alEs.1 992-9t

outpourizigs. Contrary to what has been said elsewhere, compassion is not brought into place as the
primary emwotive reaction toward Dijkstra's work.
T'he works are toucliirig, but noi pathetic; authentic,
but neither osteritationis nor plesumptuouis. And

if there is a back-and-fobth imovement between the
two, it is because, in thie final analysis, neither of
t:hem knows exactly who they are, or in wvhat worIld
t:hey are livinlg.
Therese St-Celais est historienne et critique d'art. Elie
ernseigne Ihistoire de l'art a l'Universite du Quebec 3
Montreai. Fl)e vit 3 Montreal.

Th&(rse St-Gelais is an art historian arid critic. She
teaches art history at the Universite du Qu6bec a Montreal. She lives irnMontreal.

NOTFS

l ransia ed ioam the Freich by Stephe n Wrigh1.

No,s rous referons ic t
our,igi de
dudith Rde,;
Gender Trouble: femyFils'i

and the Soberasicn ofidentity
(Rout"fled,e New York et
I onedsc 1990) od cile
cOefr,i cette thAse de la
-ons ,rctn

dlil sujet.

2 Cci'. iernarqiuc est pert,rremincot son evee par
Claire Risirop dcn
enitretien qu'nlle 'ait aVcc
Rinekc Diiijstra (Ra,h Art
nov/d6c. 1i99).
5. Dans ics modeiles que
D;jkstra cnoisit J'on poue
rait comrnrente, a,Ls;s es
maladaors
h.bjllfignterc a;
figures hoer ;.s gr 'anter
dars a dnmarche de
l'eri ste MIoeant des com
oats cs polarisant coristammrrit entre a vi et 'a mon,
ces horsn
ne s'en tro,evect
pas mPros eniilrniat:iques,
en effet de e;t6rtt sir
gu iemd la pnotomraphe/
videaste poer vic et scs
vwirements sordajis.
Dans Nociadi Subiehts:
Er bodiinent and Sexual
Differ,nce in Cohemporray
teminint Theory, Cole r,bia
University Press, New York,
1994
5. Ca. portra ts ant ftd pris
en Angletorre, en Beigiqee,

en Croaie aUX Etats UrB's,
en loiognc ei er, Ukraire.
56 D kstra n est pas s,eie
Loutefo s t s'6ectionrei se.
modles et je mc rdi
frerai
i- au texte de Nathalie
De Dard, ' a Photographie,
vere une conrrnnaute sur
meS n.s (PARACH TF 101),
oi e le analyse avsc justesse,
ia photographie contemrporamc et son engoement
pour les portraits a' idividus
cedc petits groupes qu'eite
,ret en rclation avec lc phe
roomnre actuei do la giobalication. Cc fiee Michacl
Bracewell releve ega isinert
du travail de Dijkstra airs
qeil d,t: 'he impotar. :
ard p.tenty of Rimnke
Dijl(stra's wo-' in photography and video derivce in
part fronm nor specific retum
to a se ective eye wh le
responding to a i e ture
which lives in partia! easc
w th the ubiquity of recorded
images of pcop;e.. (Rineko
Dijksto: Lootion, The
Photograpiers' Ga .ery
Landres, '997) Soulignons
6galerient les recherchcs
recet-te', 'e Chanta Poat
briarid rGunies dans Commnocutf at Ger,3, par1 , aux
Edit ons Parachure (2ooo).

1Iam diawing herapon
tioe work of 'e
etter,
uith
Geander rouble: Fenni5mo

rad the Subave
son of Identity
(New YoIrk and London:
R;ot ecgc 1990) where
she makes tnc case far the
con.str'ct,onsof the subjret.
This
l.
pont was appositely
raised by Claire Bishop in
her iiterview with R.neke
Dijkstra in Filsh Art
Nov.iDet. l99S.
3. Armnr. gat the rmodel,s
Dijkstra chooses. ore coo d
also mention the bulifi-htrs,
wiho, though engaged in
combats wh ch ronstantly
polarize them between lifi
and death, are nonetheless
emblematic of tne photog
rapherrteo.fieo hI maker's
si golar i nterest for IIfe and
its s.dder tirnarounds.
4In Nomead, Subjects:
Embndirnent and Sexual
ifjerence in (ontempor,y
Feriiret Theora, New York:
CIutmb a tJnicers ty Prose,
1994.
5. heso pi)rtraits were taker
in dgien,, Croatia, England,
Poi1snd, the ljkraine arid
the JUnited States.

o Dkcstra is not, nowever,
aMore in sclel ing her
mod' s arA- ir "La Photographite vers rne commui.naite
sLi meecre ('ARACHUrL
rmu)Nathahie l)elbard
rightly analyzes contemporary pootograuhy's infatiwa
t on with porba ts of individ,als and smaB grouips,
which she posits in reaction
to the cui rent phersomernon
ofigobaiiztion. Miclhael
Brareweol las al so cormrriented on this aspect if
D ikstra's work, writirg:
"The imporlance and
potemry of Rircke Dijlkstra's
wart in photography ard
vdeo derives in pact from
hen specific return to a
selective eye, while responding to acuture which ives
ir partial ease with tho
ubicuity ofrecorded images
of people." Rinekee Dkstna:
Iocato,n, I ordon: The
Photographers' Callery.
997 See also Chantal
iontDriadi's recent
research on the suibject
pu.ished in Comiunwace
At Cestes (Parachute
Publications 2ooo).

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

TITLE: Rineke Dijkstra: a community of solitudes
SOURCE: Parachute no102 Ap/Je 2001
WN: 0109106069002
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