Hellen van Meene’s photograph is an illuminating example of this young Dutch photographer’s practice of portraiture. The young woman looks away from the viewer, her body contorted, as if frozen in a movement to shield herself from invading gazes. Light streams through a window from outside the picture, falling softly on her pale skin. It highlights not only her dyed blond hair but also her shoulder blade, oddly jutting out, unsettling the contour and emphasizing her thin frame. The partial shadow reveals the texture of the skin, including goose pimples and the deep impression of a bra.
Like her fellow Dutch portraitist Rineke Dijkstra, van Meene focuses on transitional states, usually, in van Meene's case, the pubescent girl, her vulnerability and doubts, poised somewhere between childhood and womanhood. As with many of van Meene's subjects, this adolescent has been posed by the artist to play a role. Interested in the dramatic potential of portraiture, in the tradition of artists such as Julia Margaret Cameron and Claude Cahun, van Meene does not intend to objectively document her subjects nor to catch their personalities, but rather, with the help of her models, to create a certain mood. Selecting subjects among young people she knows in her neighborhood as well as teenagers she meets on the street when traveling, van Meene carefully stages her pictures. Usually set in a shallow space, close to the picture plane, the models are prepared down to the smallest detail: make-up; wardrobe, if any; the pose; the direction of the gaze. And in this case, the little flower that just makes it into the picture in the lower right corner.
- Artist: Hellen Van Meene, Dutch, born 1972
- Medium: Chromogenic photograph
- Dates: 2000
- Dimensions: 11 3/4 x 11 3/4 in. (29.8 x 29.8 cm) (show scale)
- Museum Location: This item is not on view
- Accession Number: 2007.12
- Edition: Edition: 10
- Credit Line: Emily Winthrop Miles Fund
- Rights Statement: © Hellen Van Meene
- Caption: Hellen Van Meene (Dutch, born 1972). Untitled #180, 2000. Chromogenic photograph, 11 3/4 x 11 3/4 in. (29.8 x 29.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Emily Winthrop Miles Fund, 2007.12. © Hellen Van Meene
- Record Completeness: Best (81%)