Night Watching (2019), a three-channel video installation, features 14 groups of people observing and speaking in front of Rembrandt’s iconic painting The Night Watch (1642). These conversations vary from visual descriptions to conjectures on the circumstances in which the painting was created. A group of Dutch schoolgirls discuss whether Rembrandt gave the only woman in the painting the face of his wife Saskia; Japanese businessmen consider the painting’s potential for tourism; and a group of young artists discuss what it must feel like to make such an incomparable masterpiece. The scenes in the video are sequenced to explore the different ways a viewer might relate to a painting and its subject. The first groups speculate about what they are seeing: for instance, a dog painted in a vague manner, or an illuminated girl. They are followed by groups who link similar observations to their own personal lives, making comparisons between past and current society. The final groups examine the painting within an art historical context.
While the Beach Portraits that Dijkstra exhibited earlier in her career often focused on young people as autonomous subjects, the works in this new exhibition focus on connection. The duos and groups in these works have been captured all over the world, from the beaches of Poland, the United States, and the Netherlands, to various locations in Israel, Ghana, the UK, and Ukraine. In these pictures Dijkstra raises the question of how the bond between people becomes visible – which can be through a subtle resemblance in appearance, a similarity in bodily attitude towards the camera, the casual holding of two hands, or even through a strikingly large difference between the characters. All photos in this exhibition invite the viewer to consider the ways in which human beings can forge identity and potency through their connection to each other. Precisely because of her exceptional eye for detail and the gestures unique to each individual, and her great sense of human relationships and emotions, these portraits shine a special light on the power of Rineke Dijkstra’s unique oeuvre.
Rineke Dijkstra was trained at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam. Her first solo exhibition took place in 1984 at de Moor in Amsterdam. Dijkstra’s photographs have appeared in numerous international exhibitions, including the 1997 and 2001 Venice Biennale, the 1998 Bienal de São Paulo, Turin’s Biennale Internationale di Fotografia in 1999 and the 2003 International Center for Photography’s Triennial of Photography and Video in New York; Manifesta 10, St. Petersburg (2014); ICA, Boston in 2019; Barbican Art Gallery, London (2020); The Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2022).
Solo exhibitions of her work have been shown at Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP), Paris (2023); Timken Museum, San Diego (2022); Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg (2022); Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2019) de Pont, Tilburg, the Netherlands (2018); Sprengel Museum, Hannover (2018), Louisiana Museum of Art, Denmark (2017); Hasselblad Center, Gothenberg (2017); National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. (2016); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, and Guggenheim Museum, New York (2012); Tate Liverpool (2010), Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland, Jeu de Paume, Paris and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2005-6), and the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago (2001). She is the recipient of a number of awards, including the Spectrum Internationaler Preis für Fotografie der Stiftung Niedersachsen (2018), the Hasselblad Foundation International Award (2017), Citibank Private Bank Photography Prize – now Deutsche Börse Photography Prize – (1998), Werner Mantz Award (1994).