Serious Karl / Jaunty Karl

David Somers bio photo By David Somers Comment
Outside. Digital image.

A rather cold day. The trees are white with frost. It has been like this for a few days now. The frost needles getting longer.

Mixing things up. A 3’ statue of Karl Marx (by Ottmar Hörl, one of 500 that was exhibited in Stadt Trier in 2013 to commemorate the 130th anniversary of Marx’s death). A yarmulke from a friend’s bar mitzvah. My garden. Put these together in various combinations.

Serious Karl. A temporary outside installation for an hour.
Jaunty Karl. A temporary outside installation for an hour.


One of my favorite pieces of art is the 3’ Karl Marx statue by Ottar Hörl. There was something about seeing 500 of these outside the Porta Nigra in Stadt Trier for Marx’s 130th deathaversary.

I was lucky to get one of the statues. He’s too precious to live outside. Most of his time he’s in the house, gathering dust. Returning from a bar mitzvah, my yarmulke ended up on Karl’s head, and has been there ever since.

Once a year Karl gets taken outside to blow the cobwebs off him.

Its fun to pose him in the garden, the industrial red plastic against the dull winter backdrop: Serious Karl, with the yarmulke set correctly; Jaunty Karl, with the yarmulke at an angle. Either way, it suits him.

I like that I’ve taken one of Hörl’s artworks and repurposed him in a contrary manner: Hörl does installations where he make multiples of the same (there is nothing quite like seeing 500 statues spread around a site) but I’ve taken just one, and altered it, injected a bit of humour (Jaunty Karl tends to be the default setting over Serious Karl). And its fun to do my one-statute-not-multiples installation for just a few hours once a year: each year Karl comes out, gets “planted” in a different location, posed, and photographed, then put away for another year.

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