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When Angela Merkel’s tenure as federal chancellor ended in autumn 2021, a worldwide unique project of Herlinde Koelbl also came to an end: With a brief hiatus, the photographer accompanied Angela Merkel, from 1991, when she entered the political arena, over a period of 30 years. The periodic portrait sessions document her rise from a young, inexperienced politician to chancellor of the Federal Republic and finally to the rank of a global leader. The unique close-ups capture an extreme physical and psychic transformation of a young female politician and form the protocol of an unusual encounter of two women at the same time.

Herlinde Koelbl is one of the most renowned German photographic artists. Her extensive oeuvre is characterised above all by photographic long-term projects, often supplemented by in-depth conversations and video recordings. The portrait series of Angela Merkel is a continuation of Koelbl’s photo series “Traces of Power”, in which Koelbl portrayed well-known public personalities over a period of several years.