What is the importance of the human body? Riet van der Lubbe is fascinated by that question. Why is one person, made of flesh and blood, so unique compared to seven billion other people? What is this person’s identity? In her artwork she shows enlarged crops of the body, ranging from newborn babies to the very elderly with different cultural backgrounds. She brings the individuality of the body of that very one man, with its full restrictions, , vulnerability and finiteness. Faces don’t occur in her work. Also titles, signature and picture frames are lacking. Riet van der Lubbe focuses on the essence of the body and intends not to distract the viewer in his observation.
Identity represented in body language
Initially she focused on the physical body as such. Not surprising for someone who, at the time, started a biology study through a strong interest in all living things. But soon her work moved deeper by representing the human, the soul within that very body. By isolating and enlarging cut-outs of the body, Van der Lubbe shows her fascination incisively. Identity is depicted in body language. Beauty does not play a role, the body is what it is. John Keats: Beauty is truth, truth is beauty.
Layering is an important aspect in her work: she looks as it were, under the skin. Thus she represents her search for the person within the body.
By depicting the very elderly in black and white instead of colour , she accentuates even more the personal individuality of the body in the final phase of life.
Some of her artworks show multiple aspects of one person. The composed image is a metaphor for the various manifestations of identity in one and the same body. The uniqueness of human in the context of cultural identity also comes forward in her work, as well as his uniqueness whithin a group.
Currently, she focuses on the identity of the human being in a group and on transgender and intersexual people. Riet van der Lubbe: ‘ transgender and intersexual people themselves are often searching intensively for their own identity, specifically in regard to their own body ‘.
Summarizing, Riet van der Lubbe’s work can be described as realistic, artistic approach to the body as carrier of identity.