24-02-2012 | 12.14
In 2006 I had just moved to Amsterdam from South-Limburg. After years of studying in that far corner of the Netherlands, I now had the opportunity to fully enjoy the rich cultural offerings Amsterdam has to bring. After a lunch in Club 11, I decided to wander through the Stedelijk. The museum was then based in the PostCS (the same building as Club 11) and had an amazing exhibit of portraits by Rineke Dijkstra. Coincidently, Dijkstra was born in the same far corner I had just come from, but had made the move to Amsterdam a lot sooner, in 1981.
In the museum, the beautiful portraits of Olivier Silva were the first of Dijkstra's works I saw. She had followed the seventeen-year-old boy from the moment he enlisted in the French Foreign Legion. The series shows the development from being a boy with an anxious look in his eyes, to a grown man with toughness in his stare. The intensity of the transformation is extraordinary. In a way, it reminded me of an inverted version of Actaeon's metamorphosis. The moment I saw the series, I knew I was a fan of Rineke Dijkstra.
It is impossible to discuss her work without mentioning the Polish girl on the photograph Kolobrzeg, Poland, July 26, 1992. Unintentionally, the girl took the world-famous pose of Botticelli's Venus. She is young and conscious of her body, just like the people in Dijkstra's video-artwork The Buzzclub/Mysteryworld.
The two-channel video projection shows people dancing to a soundtrack of '90s acid house in front of a white backdrop which had been set up in the clubs. All attention is focused on the girls and boys, with the codes and lexicon of their urban youth culture hidden in their clothing and body-language.
What binds the beforementioned works is the representation of young people in transition, of whom Dijkstra captures uninhibited moments. What would a work such as Buzzclub/Mysteryworld look like nowadays? Everyone is used to party photographers and continuous exposure on social media channels. Would it then become more like Julika Rudelius' works with their constant question of posed authenticity? Are we the confident stars of 15 seconds of social media-fame or have we become more self-conscious and diffident than ever? My guess is probably both.
Whatever the answer, I'm glad to see that Dijkstra is returning to the club scene: not to make art, but to be seen. Her works will be shown in Trouw March 29 as a part of Contemporary Art Club, Stedelijk @Trouw / De Verdieping
Text: Martijn Savenije. Being a photographer and founder of copypasteculture , he enjoys the beauty of observation and discovery.