Franz Kafka
Selbstbildnis als Franz Kafka, der seine Erzählung „Die Verwandlung“ niederschreibt
Urs Lüthi. Homage to Franz Kafka, 2015

Urs Lüthi (Kriens, 1947) is an experimental artist and one of the pioneers of body art. He rose to international fame in the late 1960s with his artistic exploration of variety, ambiguity and the fragmentation of identities. Lüthi has been exploring the meanings of the autobiographical since his acclaimed photographic self-portraits of the 1970s, where he posed as femme fatale or as an androgynous being, portraying himself in deliberately absurd and disconcerting scenes.

It is not without reason that Lüthi called the artwork he created for Meran/Merano a self-portrait rather than a representation of Franz Kafka (Prague, 1883 – Kierling, 1924), as the artist involves himself fully in the role of Kafka writing his novella. By doing so, Lüthi creates a complex network of references. Not only does he assume the identity of the Bohemian novelist, but he also alludes to the metamorphosis of the novella’s main character, the young salesman Gregor Samsa, into a monstrous insect.

In the spring of 1920, Kafka was suffering from tuberculosis and staying in Meran for a health sojourn: First he lodged at the Grand Hotel Emma in Meran, before moving to the Ottoburg boarding house in Untermais/Maia Bassa. Many of Kafka’s correspondences began in this period, including his famous “Letters to Milena” (Briefe an Milena).
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