The Socialist Fraternal Kiss between Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker, 1979

The socialist brotherly kiss became famous through Erich Honecker and Leonid Brezhnev, who were photographed practicing the ritual.

In 1979, during the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic of East Germany, photographer Regis Bosu was able to photograph the pivotal moment in which Leonid Brezhnev and President Erich Honecker were practicing a socialist fraternal kiss. After the picture was taken, many magazines immediately used it and one magazine titled it as "The Kiss".

"The Fraternal Kiss" is an example of how a single image can go beyond pure representation and elevate documentary photography to another level.

Depicting a symbolic act for the communists, Bosu's picture symbolizes the entire communist world. It symbolizes a powerful site of the Cold War: the Eastern Bloc, thus in a way the Cold War itself.

The kiss of the socialist brotherhood consists of a hug on the cheeks and a mutual kiss or in rare cases to the mouth. The rite has its origins in the Eastern Orthodox Fraternal—or Easter Kiss, which gained substantial power of expression through its hold in the rites of the Orthodox Church and therefore found use in daily life.

In those days communist political leaders were often kissed as a formality. So when East German President Erich Honecker went to hug the Soviet leader, the kiss wasn't exactly shocking — except for the enthusiasm both men showed for lip locks.

Kiss's photo spread around the world, with Paris Match magazine showing it theatrically in a two-page spread.

And when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Soviet artist Dmitry Vrubel decided to paint the iconic image on the east side of the Berlin Wall with paintings from other artists who descended on the city in the prime days after the fall. Wall. The caption running beneath Vrubel's painting reads: "My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love".

Some Kremlinologists studying the USSR paid close attention to whether there had been an exchange of fraternal embraces between communist leaders.

The omission of customary embrace is taken to indicate the low level of relations between the two countries. For example, after the Sino-Soviet split, the Chinese refused to embrace their Soviet counterparts or to address them as "comrades".

Even after relations normalized in 1989, the Chinese continued to abandon the fraternal embrace while greeting Soviet leaders, even exchanging fraternal embraces with leaders of other communist countries.

This was done to emphasize that Sino-Soviet relations were not returning to the level they were in the 1950s before the Partition; The Chinese protocol specifically emphasized "shaking hands, not hugging".

Leonid Brezhnev often invoked the Socialist Fraternal Kiss, so once Brezhnev was remarking about a foreign leader: "As a politician, nonsense ... But what a good kisser! It's a joke!".

In March 2009, the graffiti paintings, among others, were erased from the wall to allow the original artists to repaint them with a more durable paint. Vrubel was commissioned to repaint the piece.

Photographers Bosu and Vrubel met in 2009 and were photographed together on 16 June with a reproduction of their works.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.