The Dutch photographer has scooped the prestigious prize for her body of work from the last 30 years, portraits which often focus on children and adolescents
“Rineke Dijkstra’s photographs and films speak brilliantly to the intricacy of the portrait image: its embodiment in time; its capacity to reveal history; the contingency of the act of exchange between sitter, photographer and spectator; and, ultimately, photography’s revelation of the self.
“At a moment when the portrait image dissipates itself in an economy of narcissism and fractal celebrity, Rineke Dijkstra reminds us of the photographic portrait’s public potential,” says Duncan Forbes, chair of the jury for the Hasselblad Award 2017, which has awarded the Dutch photographer the SEK1,000,000 prize [just over £90,000].
Born in 1959 in Sittard, The Netherlands, Dijkstra attended the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and first came to prominence in the 1990s, with a series of photographs of mothers and their children moments after birth, and with portraits of bullfighters just after leaving the ring. In the series Beach Portraits [1992-2002], she showed children by the sea in Europe and the USA, picking out youngsters on the cusp of adolescence.
Dijkstra is known for working on long-term projects, such as her series of images of Almerisa Sehric. First shooting Almerisa as a six-year-old asylum seeker recently fled Bosnia for The Netherlands [see lead image above], Dijkstra has continued returned to photograph her every few years, documenting her transition to teenager, young woman, and mother.
Her series Olivier, shot in 2000-03 shows a young man from his enlistment with the French Foreign Legion through his years of service; she photographed young Israeli soldier Shany twice, showing her on her first induction day in uniform in 2002, and after she quit the army in 2003.
Dijkstra has also shot video portraits since the mid-1990s, most famously in clubs such as The Buzz Club, Liverpool, UK/Mystery World, Zaandam, NL (1996–97), and The Krazyhouse (Megan, Simon, Nicky, Philip, Dee), Liverpool, UK (2009). Since 2014, she has filmed young Russian ballet dancers during their rehearsals.
The Hasselblad Center in Gothenberg will stage an exhibition of Dijkstra’s work in October, plus a symposium held on 10 October. At the same time, an exhibition of her work will also go on show at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark.
The Hasselblad Foundation was established in 1979 and its Award is considered one of the most prestigious in photography. The prize is judged by a different jury each year, and the 2017 jury was made up of: Duncan Forbes (jury chair) curator and writer based in London and Los Angeles, and visiting research fellow at the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture at the University of Westminster, London; Jennifer Blessing, senior curator of photography at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Simon Njami, curator and writer, Paris; Esther Ruelfs, head of the photography and new media department at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg; and Mark Sealy, curator and director of Autograph ABP in London.