Dijkstra is perhaps best known for her portraits of children and adolescents posed on beaches in swimsuits. While the obvious association is the traditional one of children with nature (the exposed body on a beach, standing against the sky), in a subtle way the swimsuits do the opposite, by summoning a range of social and photographic associations: with snapshots of children on vacation (signs of leisure as well as physical well-being), with advertisements for swimsuits, with glamour photographs of adult women bathing beauties or adult muscle-men. Try this mental exercise. Compare Dijkstra's photograph with those types of conventional photographs. They just don't quite match. At a simple level, hers are not cute or glamorous. She has declined to choose conventionally pretty children over which our gaze would glide and instead snags our attention with the latent beauty in ordinary, quirky children and adolescents. By contrast, conventional swimsuit pictures expose children's bodies to give us simple pleasures justified by a costume, while hers demand something more complicated, offering us the physical presence of children while making us think about it in difficult ways.
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