Why is she weeping? Rineke Dijkstra’s Liverpool videos at Jan Mot (Brussels)

What is she drawing, so diligently? And what the hell are these kids talking about? It’s better if you don’t know the answers to these questions. Just go to gallery Jan Mot (Brussels) first, watch those two new videos by renowned artist Rineke Dijkstra, and then click on the read more button at the end of this paragraph. Both videos are part of The Liverpool Series 2008-2009 (three videos and four pictures), by this Dutch artist who is probably best known for her Beach portraits from the early nineties: pictures of teenagers in their swimsuits on the beach. Click on read more as well for short fragments of the Liverpool videos.

Picasso. That’s the answer. In the first video (a single channel projection) a girl called Ruth is making a drawing of a Picasso painting, at Tate Liverpool. In the second one (a three channel video projection) a class of young pupils, in their uniforms, is discussing Picasso’s Weeping woman. At first they are just describing the painting, but slowly their imagination runs free and the stories they come up with get stranger and stranger. The tree channel projection allows Dijkstra to zoom in and zoom out, focus on certain pupils ánd compose her own three-part image. Impressive.

The pictures and the video that complete The Liverpool series (not to be seen at Jan Mot) are about teenagers during a night out at nightclub Krazyhouse. Dijkstra isolated them from the club context and worked in a specially constructed studio in this club during the days it was closed. She asked them to dance to their favourite music. Dijkstra made photo-portraits of these dancers as well in a studio at Tate Liverpool.

‘I identify myself with the people I take pictures of’, Dijkstra says in a recent interview with Dutch magazine Vrij Nederland. ‘In order to make a good photo-portrait I have to feel some sort of click. I don’t choose my models for their beauty. Perfect beauty is of no interest to me. Although I know that the young people that I take pictures of probably are craving for that beauty. They are longing for something they are probably never going to get. For me it’s about catching that emotion.’

For images and video samples of all of the pictures and videos from the Liverpool Series, click here. Jan Mot (Brussels) is showing the Liverpool videos till June 5.

And just in case you were wondering: this is the Picasso the pupils are discussing. For more info about this Weeping woman, click here. For more info about Rineke Dijkstra’s current exhibition at Tate Liverpool (through August 30), click here.

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