Known for her internationally acclaimed series of portraits depicting teenagers on the beaches of South Carolina, Poland or Ukraine (1992-2002), Rineke Dijkstra has also been producing video portraits since 1996. In her video ‘Marianna (The Fairy Doll)’ we are introduced to a young classical dancer during a working session. The video follows one of her rehearsals in a St Petersburg studio as she prepares to audition for a place at the prestigious Vaganova ballet academy. Dijkstra delivers a touching portrait of this ballerina who has set out on the path to realize the dream of millions of young girls. This eloquent film bears witness to both Marianna’s determination and dedication as well as her fragility and vulnerability.
Rythmic gymnastics, born in the ex-USSR in the 40s, demands incredible body flexibility and a strict discipline. While staying in St Petersburg, Rineke Dijkstra was fascinated by the skills of these young gymnasts and decided to conduct a study. Contrary to other girls of the same age these gymnasts are trained to conceal their emotions and it’s only when they make a mistake in their choreography that a glimmer of their real personality breaks through the controlled facade. The Gymschool, St Petersburg is projected on three screens in the downstairs gallery.
It is not by chance that Rineke Dijkstra is interested in the transition from childhood to adolescence; a time when every individual builds his or her own identity and begins to present themselves in the way they wish to be perceived. Full of humanity and empathy Dijkstra creates a real intimacy with her young models.
Rineke Dijkstra’s films behave like a mirror; we see how the young people position themselves in front of her lens, then through one false movement their guard is let down and their real personas are brought into sharp relief and reflected back at us.
Rineke Dijkstra, born in 1959 (Sittard, The Netherlands), lives in Amsterdam. She studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. Her photographic work have appeared in numerous international exhibitions and biennials such as the 1997 and 2001 Venice Biennial, the 1998 Sao Paulo Biennial or the 2003 International Centre for Photography’s Triennial of Photography and Video in New York.