Many photo-journalists took pictures of this scene, but Barbara Klemm opted against a close-up: “In these kind of situations I'm more interested in the setting within which people are acting. At a first glance, the detail is undoubtedly stronger; but when you look at my picture a second time you see Gromyko, the Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time, and Chernenko, who would succeed Brezhnev, in the background to the right. In contrast to the applauding Politburo, they are totally uninterested in the kiss and are talking to each other.” What Klemm's picture shows in particular is the stiff, formalise ritual of the team of elderly gentlemen functionaries. This also is also now part of history.
The same motif, painted by Dimitri Wrubel on a piece of the remains of the former Berlin Wall, gained even more attention years later at the Berlin East-Side-Gallery. It was modelled, however, on a photo taken by the French photo-journalist, Régis Bossu, who took the picture while standing in the same press group in Schloss Niederschönhausen. Though the scene was the same, he had chosen to take a close-up.
During her work for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, Barbara Klemm took many iconic pictures covering political and societal history. On December 27, 2019, she will be celebrating her 80th birthday. Congratulations. (Ulrich Rüter)
The current issue of LFI magazine presents a selection of Klemm's work.
The exhibition, Barbara Klemm, Osten, Bilder aus Osteuropa und der DDR, is currently on display at the Leonhardi Museum Dresden, where it will remain till March 1, 2020.
Photo: © Barbara Klemm