In 1990 Rineke Dijkstra had a bicycle accident that radically changed her life and the kind of work she made.
The first evidence of something new – the first picture of consequence she made after her accident – is a 1991 self-portrait that shows the artist in a bathing suit and cap in a shower after a grueling, thirty-lap swim that was part of her rehabilitation program. Taken with a newly purchased 4 x 5 field camera (one that she still uses today), which has a relatively wide-angle lens, she looks into the camera, at us- and at herself- fiercely. In the photograph, Dijkstra is exhausted; making it was almost an act of defiance. For such a dramatic origin, the picture appears modest, but her gaze is unsparing. She has made a document of an achievement, of returning to health, but it also documents a change in her very being. She is not the person she was before, nor is her work the same. „It was my first attempt to make a 'natural portrait', one based on reality,“ Dijkstra says, and she sees this self-portrait as the photograph from which the subsequent Beach Portraits (1992-2002) evolved.
Sandra S. Phillips, Twenty Years of Looking at People in Rineke Dijkstra: A retrospective, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 2012