The Gallery’s first work by the Dutch artist Rineke Dijkstra (b. 1959), a three-channel HD video installation with sound, is on view through September 2, 2013 in the West Building Project Room (on the Ground Floor adjacent to the West Building Lecture Hall). Its purchase was made possible by Joseph M. Cohen and the Collectors Committee.
For two decades, Dijkstra has been celebrated for her penetrating portraits that strive to reveal, as she has said, “the specialness of the ordinary.” While she is acclaimed for her large-scale photographs that express emotional depth and complexity, she has also made videos since the mid-1990s. The most accomplished of these is I See a Woman Crying (Weeping Woman) (2009).
The work consists of three adjacent screens across which viewers see nine British boys and girls, all about 11 years old, wearing Catholic school uniforms and standing before a white background. They have been asked to speak about a painting that is never shown or identified in the video: Picasso’s Weeping Woman (1937, Tate Modern). They begin by slowly describing the painting, yet their remarks quickly escalate as their imaginations are sparked: “Maybe her stepmum was like…evil; maybe nobody liked her”; “Maybe that’s a million-pound bill and she can’t pay it.”
With the naïveté of youth and the safety of a group of friends, the children are unconcerned with providing the “right” answers and instead simply express their ideas. Thus, the video achieves the same level of startling authenticity that Dijkstra captures in her still photographs.