De Panne, Belgium, August 7, 1992, from Beach Portraits, 1992 / by Les Ann Holland


We enter this fascinating image at the front third of the picture plane, where the figure is squarely anchored upon the ground behind also in front of it. Positioned about halfway into the first plane of the sand depicted in the foreground, the figure appears at first glance to be symmetrical. This is not the case. Tracking the feet upward through the spine, we see heels are somewhat parallel to knees. However, as we extend upward, through the hips, we notice the figure has most of its weight on its left leg. Further inquiry into the muscle tone there, or perhaps the angle of the light reveals the upper patella is more engaged, as is the hamstring above it. In fact, extending below the patella, the shin is taught, vertical. On the figure's left hand side, we see a slight angle from ankle to knee. We see also less muscle tone above the right knee. Hips are somewhat square. Before that, we see the hands, one on each side, with palms facing flat against the upper and outer thighs. Traveling up the form, we notice the variant on the stripes, which ripple downward then again upward. Four lines of ripples on the figure's left and three lines of ripples on the figure's right let us know that the figure is leaning to its left, more slack on this side. This is confirmed if we measure the angle from the solar plexus to the clavicle: from the waist above, the figure leans to its left, arms straight extending from the point of tension earlier located upon the thighs. It looks as though tension is rendered via the palms or wrists, as opposed to the fingers. Shoulders appear to be level, however, a shock of thick wavy hair obscures right shoulder from view. We can only imagine as we see the movement from the wind, sweeping from our right to left. Is the figure braced? How strong is the wind? Analyzing the lay of the fabric, we can see that, above the hips, there are no undulations originating at the right side, traveling left. Did the figure's body authenticate the shapes of its architecture? Standing upon the shore ergo the sea, the figure looks at the viewer. Is the figure aware of the ripples of the sea mirrored in the fabric of the swim costume? We see waves behind formed by lines of tide pulled in numinous force. Above the first, the second horizontal line peaks across the image's next rung of horizon. Miles to the third ascending are unknown. Marked by the white sail of one boat in addition to the shift of value which moves us back toward the figure mid-picture plane, the waves approach or grow from the center of the sea, which by natural law in its lesser depths become the shore. Does the sea embrace the figure, or, has the figure impressed itself upon the sea? 

Rineke Dijkstra
Dutch, born 1959

"De Panne, Belgium, August 7, 1992," from Beach Portraits, 1992

Chromogenic print; from an edition of six with two artist's proofs
167 x 140 cm (65 3/4 x 55 in.), framed