When I saw this advertisement on a building close to Checkpoint Charlie, I thought it was too good to be true.
A woman was shouting out: “Träume! (Dreams!)” It was on the West side of Berlin, and she was facing East. This was completely a coincidence. It was like she was calling to the other side, telling them to dare to dream, don’t give up hope, one day you will be free.
Checkpoint Charlie, because of its historic role and emotive name has become a symbol for the division of Berlin. There is a now a monument to recall its part in history, a 1998 lightbox installation by artist Frank Thiel called “Untitled”. It is a pole with a billboard, on one side of which is a photo of a Russian soldier, on the other an American soldier. The photos were taken in 1994, four years after the end of the German Democratic Republic (GDR, or DDR in German) and the later fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
By framing the former Eastern Bloc soldier and the young Western woman in the same photo, an ordinary advertisement which could be seen all across the city became laden with meaning. I played with the field of depth and tried to get both images in focus, which was hard.
I then decided to just focus on the soldier. The effect is as if we can hear the woman shout “Träume” but the soldier is too well trained to let it affect him.
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