Rineke Dijkstra: Exhibition review

When going about my summer, I love going into London to see what makes Britian British. While doing so, I always find myself going into the Tate Modern Museum. Being a photographer, its important for me to explore and maybe revisit some artists work for inspiration. The main reasons why I go into the Tate Modern museum is to gain more knowledge on pieces of artwork that I have never seen before. While looking around, the one artist that caught my eye was Rineke Dijkstra. His artwork that was on display was his work of Oliva Silva. Dijkstra photographed French Foreign Legionnaire Oliver Silva at various stages over three years, from his enlistment in July 2000 to postings in Gabon and Djinouti. For Silva, the photographs documents a period of growth but also disillusionment: ‘Going through that heavy training changed my face… but it shows more than just physical development. As time went by my opinion of the French Legion truly is, my dream gradually dissolved. In the end I did five years and left’.

The photographs were displayed in squared thin black frames, with quite a thick white border. I believe this makes the pictures looks simple and similar. So that they look like they belong in a series. The pictures represent the development of time. However, the pictures aren’t too different for the viewer to not know that it is of the same person. I think it’s really intriguing to see this person and how they have changed over time and through experiences. I look into this person’s eyes and see the growth from that of an innocent-boy to a hardened-man. I may be assuming too much, but I think these images show something about who this person actually is.

Rineke Dijkstra photographed a 18-year-old legionnaire named Olivier Silva, minutes after he had been accepted into the elite military unit. She portrayed him six more times over the course of thirty-six months while he was following the Foreign Legion stern training in Aubagne, near Marseille, when he was stationed at Castelnaudary and in the Pyrenees and right up to the moment when he is sent out to Gabon, the Ivory Coast, and Djibouti. ”The idea was to follow a soldier, someone who comes in soft and young, then turns tough,” the photographer explained, ”but I’m really talking about a mental change, not a physical one.” It’s not so much the change of uniform, the chest hairs or the stronger biceps that matter. It’s the hardening of Olivier’s look, the realization that he has acquired authority, assurance and control

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