Physical Likeness of Rineke Dijkstra:

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Rineke Dijkstra is a Dutch photographer born in 1959 who is well known for capturing her subjects in moments that are both self-conscious and unwittingly revealing. I will be focusing on this style from the artist within her commercial beach images in 1992.

These beach photographs were taken in many countries such as America, Britain and Poland, the subjects were young teenagers in their beach swimwear, the photographer basically planned not to specifically speak towards these young sitters, but to make them break out of their characterisations and become a form of physical likeness within their feelings of awkwardness. The subjects adopt a standing pose more or less of their own choosing before Rineke would take the shot with her 4×5 inch camera.

I was interested in this uncommon way of photography since I would usually see the beach as a happy place while Dijkstra’s photos of the beach are rather used as an un-distracting background to create a large amount of focus on the subjects that express what Rinkeke Dijkstra is capturing for her project.

It would have been a little more extra special if I saw this exact photography in different environments since the sitters can become this form of physical likeness in other places than beaches such as the cities for example which I thought would be a good recommendation because other people in the background showing their characteristics while the main person or sitter would have no characteristics will show an interesting comparison.

Characterisation of Claude Cahun:


Claude Cahun was born in 1892 in Nantes, France, her artwork encompasses writing, photography, and theater. She is most remembered for her highly staged self-portraits and tableaux that incorporated the visual aesthetics of surrealism that express her from being a Jewish lesbian to another random character or person. Cahun has dressed up as many types of characters such as the opposite gender of a man, a doll, a fairy and other religious icons.

The Don’t Kiss Me The Art of Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore” (2006) quoted that in the 1920’s Claude Cahun’s narcissism photographs suggest that her rejection of traditional femininity went beyond that pursued by the fashionable New Women of Paris. These self-portrait photographs not just show stripped feminine garbs, but also with Claude’s shaved head which is an extreme version of the close-cropped hair of the New Woman. Sometimes, the artist’s aim seems not to have been to affect boyishness, but to strip herself of gender characteristics altogether in pursuit of some core of self.

I personally was interested in one of her most famous self-portraits taken in 1927 which was a photograph of herself with creative makeup on her face and the shirt with the text saying “I AM IN TRAINING DON’T KISS ME”. This is because that she was creating a combination of both a changed person and thought provoking mystery prompting questions to be asked. I would describe her appearance as a clown, not for the sake of comedy but for the mixed gender and surreal performance that would make viewers asked those prompted questions.


TATE. (2003) Rineke Dijkstra: Artist’s Talk Available from: [Accessed: 13th November 2015]

Michael Fried “Why Photography Matters As Art As Never Before (2008)

Don’t Kiss Me “The Art of Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore (2006)


Rineke Dijkstra at the Guggenheim til the 8th October