Sara–Lena Maierhofer – Dear Clark,
Portrait of a Con Man
Christian Karl, a bit ordinary, hardly impressive. The names he designed for himself were more beautiful, more resonant: Christopher Crowe, Clark Rockefeller. He created his own reality, and everyone fell for it. With each new name he left his previous life behind. As though it had never existed. Almost without a trace.
Erasing the past, tailoring a new identity, becoming somebody else; not just anyone, but a Rockefeller. The old, long buried self used to be Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter from Bavaria. But he vanished a long time ago in a journey from Germany to the States. His initials were lost in a series of taken names; his skin appropriated a handful of aliases, all grandiose and luxurious in lifestyle. In 2008, after three decades of spurious identities, the lie collapsed and with it the man. Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, aka Christopher Crowe, Clark Rockefeller to name but a few; to many a swindler, a con man, a crook; to others, a gifted storyteller, a man with a polished accent who dared to be whatever he wished.
Sara-Lena Maierhofer discovered Clark in a newspaper article in 2008. She became fascinated by the man with multiple skins and decided to approach him. After Clark refused to meet her, she decided to study him from a distance; to conduct her own criminal investigation based on the existing pieces of forensic evidence- the bits of newspaper, pictures, even Clark’s early childhood drawings, and her letters to him. Still Maierhofer needed to go further. In an attempt to penetrate the multiple layers of his lie and reach the core of his personality, she chose to approach him through fiction, following Clark’s lead. She imagined him in a world of clones and doubles, one where the borders of truth and lie collapse against the rigid confinements of the image. (Natasha Christia)
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