Photographies by Barbara Klemm

Portrait Serie of the Ensemble Modern's musicians

I remember my first conscious encounter with Barbara Klemm’s work very well: at a cabinet exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt in 1991, newly opened at the time. Almost in passing, she captures precise moments of our existence in her pictures – staged without any trace of staging:

  • The pleasantly car-free street of pre-war buildings in Leipzig, with grandmother and streetlight
  • The bevy of white funfair swans in front of dark pre-fabricated buildings
  • An illicit car-wash on the bank of the Main in Offenbach
  • Gossiping »deshurnayas« (attendants) at Leningrad’s Eremitage -Vintners taking a break in the Rheingau in their vineyards
  • Cyclists on the death strip of the former inner-German border
  • A team of horses, travelling almost at the speed of a troika, in front of stopped Ladas in the centre of Katowice

Her images turn us into witnesses to our own existence on both sides of the Iron Curtain, empathetically led by Barbara Klemm: this past has a human warmth in all her pictures. Then there is her art of suggesting/defining the medium of black-and-white as the continuously changing colours of the picture’s content: the warm light of scenes set in a natural landscape, as opposed to the extreme and harsh black-and-white contrasts in her images of politicians. Linda Reisch, the former head of Frankfurt’s Department of Culture and a friend of Barbara Klemm and Ensemble Modern, suggested this unique series of portraits, which is now complete; once again it is a spontaneous collection of the twenty individual musicians we are, united and »ennobled« in Barbara Klemm style: in its homogeneity, this is an almost ideal group portrait.

Thank you for this, Barbara Klemm!

Ueli Wiget (Ensemble Modern)

See the picture gallery.