“In Rineke Dijkstra’s Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, USA June 24 1992, a girl in an apricot bikini stands awkwardly on a South Carolina Beach against a drab grey background of beach, sea and sky.
The foreground is lit. The young woman stands on her little patch of sand. Dijkstra photographs the girl with sympathy, but despite this sympathetic portrayal, the girl looks isolated and lonely.
Her isolation is accentuated by her appearance - she’s made herself up (this picture is an appointment picture, and thinking it would be some kind of a model shoot, the girl wears layers of make up). She also sucks her stomach in - because her mother is on the sidelines telling her she looks fat. And perhaps because of this, she has a look of anxiety on her face, an expression that is almost confused.
So the girl in the apricot bikini is uncertain of where she is and who she is. She exists in a Anglo-adolescent zone of darkness. The background landscape is a series of stratas of greyness, from the beach to the sea and, punctuated only by the turbulence of rolling waves, a sky of overwhelming greyness, and that seems to be where her future lies.
In terms of technique and lighting, it is not an especially complex picture. In terms of what it shows, it is. Dijkstra uses landscape, light, body, dress and facial expression in a way that reveals something about the girl that goes beyond the photographer. She leaves the image open to interpretation and uses factors outside her control in making the portrait - the finished article is a product of circumstance and chance, and not Dijkstra’s machinations. The picture has social, psychological, sexual and cultural layers to it, it has an emotional narrative and it ties in with a photographic tradition. Everything in the picture matters. It’s an image that has stood the test of time, from a series that has stood the test of time. And though it is a famous image, and many people have attempted to copy it, nobody has come close. It’s still original and it still packs a punch.”- Colin Pantall