Teen Angels

This painterliness allows subtle shifts in plane, slight distortions, and indirect angles to take on consequence. Everything that happens in a Dijkstra happens in the vividly lit, acutely in focus, sunburst center. Her best pictures compress your entire field of vision into this densely packed optical tornado.

As a photographer, Dijkstra is two parts August Sander, one part Diane Arbus, and one part classicist. Like Sander, Dijkstra approaches her subjects in a terse, documentary manner. Like Arbus, she chooses her moments well. The boy in the Benetton shirt, the Lithuanian girl with braids, and the blond who squeezes her hands into fists and curls her toes with tension are all distant cousins of Arbus's terrifying Child with a toy hand grenade in Central Park. Meanwhile, the girl in the black-and-white sweater has the cornea-burning clarity of a van Eyck.


Rineke Dijkstra
Marian Goodman Gallery
24 West 57th Street
Through October 23

Pop genius Phil Spector once said, "I imagined a sound so strong that if the material wasn't the greatest, the sound would carry the record." Even though it remains to be seen if Dijkstra's teenagers and young people are the strong "sound" or the weak "material" of her art, these photographs can get monotonous. In Buzzclub, however, everything works. Subject, setting, color, and format are in alignment, and Dijkstra touches something bottomless. Maybe it's that the kids are more comfortable in front of video cameras than still ones; that their "real," unguarded selves came out; that, for Dijkstra, warm goes further than cool; that in changing her medium she tweaked her approach. Or maybe it's more primitive: We love watching life.

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