FIRST PHOTOBOOK SHORTLIST: Dear Clark: Portrait of a Con Man

Sara-Lena Maierhofer
Dear Clark,: Portrait of a Con Man

Drittel Books, Berlin, 2016
Designed by Sven Lindhorst-Emme

Dear Clark, is a case-study-turned-meditation on shifting identities. The project began when German artist Sara-Lena Maierhofer read about a con man known as “Clark Rockefeller,” among other personas. She set out to initiate a correspondence and get to know his motivations for imposture, but Clark never responded. Instead collecting primary documents—such as his birth certificate, brain scan, family photos, and an early childhood drawing—Maierhofer attempts to connect the dots, eventually straying into speculation and fiction. As Bertrand says, “The book feels very close to an installation,” with tipped-in images that create an interplay of objects with the space of the page. The book also contains images that link to themes of transformation and duplication: Siamese twins, a Michael Jackson impersonator, manipulated photographs, and prisms. Bertrand proposes it is, “a conceptually strong body of work that expresses itself in a refreshingly varying use of the medium of photography, bringing found footage and documentary photography into a convincing dialogue, all by using a high quality materiality and design.” Dear Clark, was initially released as a limited-edition, self-published book; this version is Maierhofer’s first book to be published by an independent publisher.

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