Rineke Dijkstra and Contemporary Subjectivity
Quick, Jennifer Eileen
Shannon, Joshua A
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In this thesis, I argue that the work of contemporary Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra (b. 1959) complicates how we understand subjectivity, or the way that humans come into being and exist in the world, by both reinforcing and countering the idea that the subject is a product of social relations. Dijkstra's large-scale photographs of individuals propose a dialectical subject who is constituted both by his or her own agency as well as within exterior social circumstances. This is especially significant in light of the fact that influential scholarship on contemporary art has largely been dominated by the construct of the subject as socially determined. The theory of subjectivity represented in Dijkstra's photographs therefore demonstrates a certain ambivalence that is descriptive of contemporary subjectivity. As such, Dijkstra's photographs offer a fresh take on how we conceive of subjectivity today.