A lightbox installation near Checkpoint Charlie on the Friedrichstrasse by Berlin artist Frank Thiel called “Untitled” that shows a Russian soldier on one side and an American soldier on the other. Erected in 1998, 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.
Berlin – Photo Tip

Framing can give great meaning to otherwise uninteresting objects

Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Berlin – Photo Tip Framing can give great meaning to otherwise uninteresting objects

When I saw this advertisement on a building close to Checkpoint Charlie, I thought it was too good to be true.

Jochem Wijnands
Jochem Wijnands Founder / photographer

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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Checkpoint Charlie was the most famous of three crossings in Berlin that took their name from the phonetic alphabet. Checkpoint Alpha was at Helmstedt and Checkpoint Bravo was at Dreilinden. Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Jochem Wijnands

Jochem Wijnands

NIKON D2X

Aperture
ƒ/10
Exposure
1/400
ISO
100
Focal
24 mm

Checkpoint Charlie was the most famous of three crossings in Berlin that took their name from the phonetic alphabet. Checkpoint Alpha was at Helmstedt and Checkpoint Bravo was at Dreilinden.

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