Coney Island, N.Y., USA, June 20, 1993 [Rineke Dijkstra]

Show her your beach bod

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Not ideal for those with vertigo

Silke van de Grift

Contributor

Rineke "minors in bathing suits" Dijkstra, ladies and gents.

Coney Island, 1993. You’re an awkward girl, about to hit puberty, wearing a hand-me-down that's still a little bit too big. And there she is, this Dutch lady with her huge camera and tripod. Rineke Dijkstra prefers her Japanese 4-by-5 field camera over your basic Canon. She once said people didn’t know exactly what it was she was carrying, which somehow helped her find perfect subjects for her “beach portraits”. Can you imagine someone coming up to a kid today like, “Heyyy I wanna photograph you in your bathingsuit.” Most people would freak out. The '90s were obviously a lot less paranoid. (But there were also a lot more child abductions, sooooo...)

Rineke is crazy about portraits, but her beach portraits are the most famous of ‘em all. She visited beaches around the world, looking for the little things that makes a person stand out. Think bed-hair, an awkward uneven stance, bathing suits wet on all the wrong places or basically anything that shows us the real you. “They showed what we don’t want to show anymore but still feel.” Rineke doesn’t glorify youth, she thinks of it as a state of uncertain transition. Speaking of transition, Rineke is still in contact with some of her subjects. Unfortunately, she didn’t keep in contact with this Coney Island girl, so we might never know what she’s doing now. (Send us an e-mail if it’s you!)