Dancing in the Nineties

The-Krazyhouse-2009-Megan-videostillRineke Dijkstra is a Dutch photographer and video artist whose first comprehensive filmic retrospective worldwide is currently showing at the MMK (Museum for Modern Art) in Frankfurt. The exhibition that will be running until 26th May 2013 includes two film premieres.

Dijkstra’s video and photography portraits are scattered across the MMK alongside 100 artworks from the museum’s collection that have been curated by the artist herself and include works by Andy Warhol, Wolfgang Tillmans, Bruce Naumann, Roy Lichtenstein, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Joseph Beuys, as well as Picasso’s Weeping Woman (on loan from London’s Tate gallery).

Her own videos and photographs display teenagers on the border of adulthood captured on camera over the past couple of decades. The most compelling of her artworks are her videos of clubbers dancing against a white backdrop in broad daylight at a Liverpool venue. Moving to the club’s electro beats or their chosen track in 1996/97 and 2009 respectively, the teenagers are portrayed with an honest, sometimes awkward quality. The recently filmed teens appear more comfortable posing in front of a camera than their 90s counterparts. Have digital technology and the likes of YouTube made being caught on camera more normal and natural?

The minimalist background allows the audience to focus on the subject’s features and dress. Inevitably, their clothes become a historical documentation of a prevalent fashion of a certain moment in time. In the 90s recording, we see twins in shell suits, girls in mini dresses and a teenage couple kissing with the boy wearing an unbuttoned flannel shirt teamed with baggy jeans and the girl in a black microfiber skirt and a black cropped lace top. Generally speaking, there is a preference for artificial fibres and an emphasis on the stomach area with cut-outs revealing the belly button.

It becomes apparent that today’s current obsession with all things 90s is merely a version of that particular era, rather than an exact copy of the fashionable styles. Instead, certain elements have been picked out and updated so they fit within the natural flow of the fashion cycle and match today’s aesthetic.

With that observation in mind, looking at the dance videos shot in 2009, one wonders, what are the elements that will stand out to an audience in ten years’ time? Which components of a garment will be revived in another twenty years’ time, once this millenium’s thirties have become nostalgic for the naughties?

This is an outstanding exhibition that is worth seeing if you have a chance to travel to or through Frankfurt.

(25a) The Buzz Club - Rineke Dijkstra. foto Paul Koenen

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