RINEKE DIJKSTRA, BULLFIGHTERS 1996

57368d173d2f816efe08e6c5a54097df“Dijkstra also finds rawness and vulnerability in people who are physically exhausted, such as mothers who have given birth, or matadors who have just left the bullfighting ring. Like the teenagers, their identity is in a precarious state, their exhaustion undermining their ability to pose. In this sense, these pictures are the converse of her photos of teenagers, which capture the making of identity. While the bloodied faces and jackets of the bullfighters remind us of the masculine violence and courage that defines their identity as bullfighters, their tired faces are softened and reveal their fragility as human beings. A similar series features the three naked mothers who have just given birth, and look fatigued and afraid. The hint of roundness in their bellies evokes the image of a saintly pregnant woman, and the way in which they clutch their babies to their chest is evidence of the maternal protective instinct. Yet they have just undergone a monumental change, from being pregnant to being a mother, and the photographs primarily confront us with their fear and exhaustion—rarely associated with the image of motherhood.” -Lauren Vanzandt-Escobar, Rineke Dijkstra’s Retrospective: Identity and the Expressive Fallacy, The American Reader,

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