Can a picture reveal who a person is? Who they will become? Can you forecast their personhood, identity, temperament? Studying Rineke Dijskstra's photos during her mid-career exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum, I answered yes.
Richard Ford's recent novel, Canada, is a briliant return to form - after several disappointing books - for the Pulitzer Prize winning author of the Bascombe trilogy.
This passage, sans the particular descriptors specific to the character in Ford's story, enriched my own reflections of Dijskstra's talent:
"*How she looked - her size (the same height as Shirley Temple when she was fifteen), her appearance (rarely smiling, bespectacled, her studious Jewish foreignness), her visible disposition (skeptical, sharp-witted, self-defending, frequently distant) - had always seemed to be involved in everything she thought or said, as if her appearance created her whole self." [*emphasis added]
Dijskstra's carefully constructed compositions prompt lingering and second looks as you recognize or perhaps remember that the judgment you render on her subjects reveals as much about you as it does about them.
Unfortunately the survey is broken up into several side galleries throughout the Guggenheim's rotunda where the main space is occupied by an equally compelling though radically different exhibit of international abstraction 1949-1960.
It's challenging for the casted spell in Dijskstra's individual photos, series of photos taken of the same individual over time, and videos to sustain their trance when in-between you spy a Bourgeois or Rothko. Nevertheless, it's powerful work and demands to be seen.