Rineke Dijkstra makes photographic portraits of the world's youth in (stereo)typical periods or stages of existence. In addition to her photos of women just after the experience of giving birth and bloody torreros after the bullfight, her portraits of spotty boarding school teenagers convey the vulnerable and insecure expression of her models when confronted with the camera. Placing her subjects under close scrutiny, Dijkstra affectionately emphasises their emotive relationship with the camera. In 'Nugent Schoolboy', the coldness of the official class photo echoes his psychological tension. Between extreme self-awareness and unconscious abandonment to the camera, the schoolboy's image lies somewhere between the private and public spheres.
As a result of their precision with regard to detail, accompanied by the subtlety of their texture and colours, Rineke Dijkstra's photo portraits are also reminiscent of the tradition of the 17th and 18th century Dutch and Flemish portraitists. In each case, the grotesqueness of the candid portraits is overcome by the sensitivity to the sitter's personality and persona. Situated between caricature and brutal reality, Dijkstra's photos reflect the real-life problems and joys of the new generation of global youth at the end of the 20th century.