For the first time in thirty years, the works of Herlinde Koelbl are going on show at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin.
The German photographer once said, “People are unpredictable.” Perhaps this explains why so many consider her work so special, and so intense. Koelbl is fascinated by the human personality. By what makes people tick. But she became interested in photography completely by chance. “I was sitting with my children on the lawn, “ she explains, “It meant I had a different perspective – one from their point of view as they were playing, rather than the adult one from above, looking down on them.” This is this technique Koelbl has employed with all her subjects. “Traces of Power” is a long-term study of the German political elite. For 8 years, she tried to figure out how power changes people, whether it distorts personality and Koelbl had an early fascination with Angela Merkel. “Nobody would have imagined in 1991 that Angela Merkel would one day become Chancellor,” she says,“But i was drawn by her power and originality. She already had amazing energy at that time. But that’s what you need if you want to get on: an enormous energy and power.” Herlinde Koelbl’s portraits are intimate, but not invasive, critics say. They are products of genuine interest and curiousity. “What is critical for me is that I never consider the person opposite me as an object, but as a human being. I don’t direct the person. I give them space to be themselves.” More than 450 of Koelbl’s works will be on show in Berlin. The exhibition lasts until November.