What drives a person to constantly take on a new personality? What characterises a man who systematically avoids being recognised as himself? In Foam
3h, Sara-Lena Maierhofer (1982, Germany) shows her investigation into the life and the lies of swindler and fraud Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, alias Clark Rockefeller.
In Dear Clark, Sara-Lena Maierhofer tries to approach a swindler and fraud whose life has consisted of carefully constructing and then erasing his identity. After she fails in convincing the man to meet with her personally, she decides to study him from a distance. Step by step, she becomes better acquainted with her subject: his appearance, his idiosyncrasies, his intentions.
Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter (1961) was born in Germany and moved to America to study as a teenager. Since that time he has used many aliases and passed himself off as a success (varying from presenter to government advisor). In Boston he posed as Clark Rockefeller, related to the chic Rockefeller family, and married Sandra Boss, a woman from a wealthy family. Christiaan lived in luxury throughout their twelve-year marriage, while his wife supported him. When Sandra discovered the extent of her husbands deceptions, she filed for divorce. Following the divorce, Christian lost custody of his daughter and kidnapped her, whereupon Sandra hired a private investigator who exposed Christians past. Christian was arrested shortly after.
Maierhofer had read about Christian in the Süd-Deutsche Zeitung newspaper; she was fascinated and became engrossed in his life. His deceit captivated her, perhaps because she had experienced that in photography, too, the dividing line between fiction and reality is exceedingly fine. Maierhofers aim is to unmask photography as a lie in itself.
The project Dear Clark, consists of found photographs and her own photos, as well as videos and documents. Maierhofer has divided the story into a number of chapters such as De Introductie [The Introduction], De Belofte [The Promise], De Leugen [The Lie], etc. This way the photographer adds context to the storyline and it becomes an exemplary story for the many other swindlers.
Sara-Lena Maierhofer (Freudenstadt, 1982) studied photography and media art at the University of Applied Sciences in Bielefeld. In 2011 she won the Gute Aussichten Award for New Photography 2011/2012.