The Cable

The Many Faces of Angela Merkel

Two Merkels. Three spinning Merkels. Escher Merkels.

Multiple exposures of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Sept. 25, 2017.  (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
Multiple exposures of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Sept. 25, 2017. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

At Foreign Policy, we often use Getty Images, a photo agency, to find photographs. While perusing Getty for images of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, about whom FP published three pieces on Monday due to her re-election, we came across a series that left us as confused as a Social Democratic Party member wondering what went wrong after Sunday’s vote, but pleased at the powerful tools now at our disposal to illustrate the election outcome.

Getty’s caption for one of the photos in question reads:

BERLIN, GERMANY – SEPTEMBER 25: (EDITORS NOTE: Multiple exposures were combined in camera to produce this image.) German Chancellor and Christian Democrat (CDU) Angela Merkel speaks to the media at CDU headquarters on the day after the CDU won 32.9% of the vote and a first place finish in yesterdays German federal elections on September 25, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The CDU win, which guarantees Merkel a fourth term as chancellor, is marred by the third-place finish of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD), with 12.6%. The AfD will be represented by 94 parliamentarians, the first time in post-World War II German history that a right-wing, nationalist party has made it to the Bundestag. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images).

We understand the how — multiple exposures and in-camera editing.

A Getty representative did not immediately respond to request for comment. So we at FP are left to come up with our own reasons for what it all means.

Each Merkel here symbolizes one of Merkel’s previous three terms as chancellor of Germany. The pale background bespeaks the unknown future of German politics, and the pale “CDU” watermarks are as hard to read as the path to a coalition government.

Which Merkel’s head is behind which? The answer could determine if you see the fall of the grand coalition as positive or regressive for Germany.

If three Merkels were lying on the grass after a picnic, and they wanted to converse at a whisper, perhaps they would array themselves thusly.

Oh no: The chancellor seems to be conjoined at the head — with herself. Hopefully the German government has a contingency plan for this scenario.

Update: On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Getty Images got back to us with a comment. She said in an email to FP: “Getty Images’ editorial team cover over 160,000 events a year, and while our photographers are well versed in traditional news gathering techniques, they are also encouraged to be creative and challenge the conventional approach to coverage, so as to offer a different view for clients who might want to illustrate a story in a unique way.”

Photo credit: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Benjamin Soloway is an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @bsoloway

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