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A Panoramic Parable told in 52 Scenes, created by Kahn & Selesnick of the Fledermaus Workshop
851 backers pledged $40,764 to help bring this project to life.
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$40,764

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Queen of Weeds
Queen of Weeds

We are the Fledermaus Workshop—the object-making arm of Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick, multimedia artists working as a collaborative team since 1988. Kahn & Selesnick have shown photographs, paintings, sculpture, video and installations in over 100 solo gallery and museum exhibitions internationally, and our work is in over 20 collections including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Fogg Museum (Harvard University), the Denver Art Museum, and the Smithsonian Institution. We have published three books with Aperture Press: Scotlandfuturebog, (Best Book 2002 of the New York Book Show and a top ten photo book in the Village Voice), City of Salt, and The Apollo Prophecies. Our most recent book, 100 Views of the Drowning World, was published in 2017. Last year, the Fledermaus Workshop launched its first kickstarter project, the Carnival at the End of the World Tarot Deck, which was funded 400%.

A mock-up of the commercial edition tuck box
A mock-up of the commercial edition tuck box

We successfully completed our “Carnival” project, fulfilled all rewards, and had a wonderful experience meeting a new community through Kickstarter. By funding our Tarot deck through the Kickstarter platform we were able to produce the highest quality commercial edition multiple possible—supervising every layer of production ourselves—and directly offer our audience a well-made object at an accessible price. We’d like to engage with the Kickstarter community again with a new project!

Sample cards from the commercial deck showing numbered corners and joker
Sample cards from the commercial deck showing numbered corners and joker

 We are now making a POKER DECK FOR THE DROWNING WORLD: an edition of 3000 card decks printed from original pen, ink and watercolor images that when laid end-to-end form a continuous panoramic parable about climate change. Icebergs, Weeds, Chimneys, and Birds replace the standard playing card suits of clubs, diamonds, spades, and hearts, in keeping with the themes of the deck.  

Fine Art edition, lava flow and floodplain editions
Fine Art edition, lava flow and floodplain editions

The POKER DECK FOR THE DROWNING WORLD invites you to play a game of chance whilst its narrative and imagery reminds you how humanity has gambled with industry, growth and the natural world; or perhaps, you prefer to build a precarious House of Cards, where one card removed causes all the others to change and fall as does the extinction of a species or the disappearance of a glacier change ecosystems and our environment.

Card Plates, detail from an Eisbergfreistadt panorama
Card Plates, detail from an Eisbergfreistadt panorama

THE DROWNING WORLD’s iconography first arose in our body of work EISBERGFREISTADT, a multimedia project we immersed ourselves in from 2006-2010. EISBERGFREISTADT told the tale of an iceberg that broke away from Greenland and, adrift off the coast of Lubeck, Germany, became a “free trade area”—the Iceberg Free State—during the 1923 hyperinflation. EISBERGFREISTADT’s most elaborate representative iteration took place in a 2010 exhibition at the Overbeck-Gesellschaft Museum in Lubeck, Germany, where we presented photographs, postcards, banknotes, architectural models, period clothing, and marzipan as documentation of a complex society besieged by climate crisis, economic chaos, and the rise of fascism. 

Image of Eisbergfreistadt from our book "100 Views of the Drowning World" (Candela Books)
Image of Eisbergfreistadt from our book "100 Views of the Drowning World" (Candela Books)

In 2006, we started producing an edition of 10 artist-printed, individually hand-painted poker decks for exhibitions around the country at our various Galleries. We soon found  so many people wanted to own the deck that we decided to have a smaller-scale facsimile edition of 2,000 souvenir decks produced by a commercial manufacturer. This first version was very popular and sold out quickly.

Cards from the Fine Art edition have square corners and are unnumbered
Cards from the Fine Art edition have square corners and are unnumbered

Over the years we’ve received many inquiries about the souvenir poker deck, but rather than simply reprinting it we decided to take it apart and put it back together in a much-improved revised version. We have updated the imagery to be more universal and less tied to the fictional history of EISBERGFREISTADT, and to speak more directly to contemporary climate change. 

Fine Art edition backs (commercial version will use a single repeated panel)
Fine Art edition backs (commercial version will use a single repeated panel)

Titrating between the old drawings and computer files and improved iterations of the images, we adapted, redrew, and repainted the cards. The POKER DECK FOR THE DROWNING WORLD eschews the antiqued finish of the first souvenir deck and instead favors a richly saturated, brightly-hued series of images. The commercial version of the deck will have standard English numbers and letters unobtrusively placed in the corners so that the cards can be used for actual card play. To produce the deck we will use the Expert Playing Card Company to ensure faithful reproduction of the original paintings on the best commercial paper stocks available. The deck is regulation poker size.

King of Birds, from "100 Views of the Drowning World" (Candela Books)
King of Birds, from "100 Views of the Drowning World" (Candela Books)

We hope to raise $12,000 by April 15 to pay for printing an edition of 3,000—working again with the same printers who made our successful CARNIVAL AT THE END OF THE WORLD TAROT DECK commercial edition.  We estimate they would ship the finished decks to us by July; we would then be able to ship decks and rewards to our supporters in August 2019.

Original design sketches
Original design sketches
An framed early version of deck
An framed early version of deck
A Drowning World Book or Carnival Tarot Deck are offered as rewards at certain pledge levels
A Drowning World Book or Carnival Tarot Deck are offered as rewards at certain pledge levels

Risks and challenges

The Poker Deck of the Drowning World offers a number of risks and challenges for us to solve. We were overwhelmed with so much support and excitement on our last deck and thrilled with all the reviews of the deck when people finally had it in their hands. With our second Kickstarter, we will be more aware of what we did well and what we need to work on, and hopefully with we will be able to get the decks into the hands of our supporters in a more realistic timeframe. Our biggest challenges with our Tarot deck were estimating how long proofing and file preparation would take and thus accurately gauge when we would receive the decks from the printer; getting our shipping costs correctly estimated without a printed deck in our hands; and figuring out how to efficiently address, pack, and ship orders with such a tiny team. We are dedicated to clearly communicating to you all what’s happening, and if there are delays, to be totally transparent about when and why the decks are coming when they are. We had some issues with mailing packages to certain countries, and the loss of decks on route is not something we can inexpensively address as such a small operation, so we are being stricter on which countries we will or will not take orders from with this deck--we don’t want to promise what we can’t easily deliver. We want everyone to get their decks and other rewards as soon as possible so we will be doing everything we can to help make that possible. Balancing trying to make every one of our supporters happy with their rewards while continuing our career as fine artists is perhaps the hardest challenge, but creative solutions and quality control have always been a large part of our job, so delivering a product with really high quality at a price anyone can afford is an exciting challenge that we love solving. We will deliver the best panoramic poker deck this world has seen, and well before the waters rise to drown us all!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $8 or more About $8

    The King of Icebergs and King of Birds

    Two hand printed 3" x 5" cards from the Drowning World poker deck, printed with archival inks on matte paper, with hand cut square corners and marbled back, suitable for framing or placing on your altar. Limited to 250.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    The Drowning World Panoramic Poker Deck

    The not-so-early-bird special, though not so tardy as to miss a fine savings on the eventual retail price.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 200 backers
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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    2 Drowning World Panoramic Poker Decks

    A Pair of Drowning World Poker Decks, one for you and one for a friend or family member. Or perhaps to give to a passing merman as he swims past the window of your house.

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    Limited 86 backers
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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    1 Poker Deck & 1 Carnival Tarot Deck

    One Drowning World Poker Deck, and one Carnival at the End of the World Tarot Deck from our previous Kickstarter. This Tarot includes the standard major and minor arcanas plus 6 special bonus cards, and is printed on deluxe linen finish card stock by the Expert Playing Card Company.

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    Limited 148 backers
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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    A Poster of all the Cards

    A fine art print of all the cards of the Drowning World Panoramic Poker Deck, printed on 17" x 22" archival rag paper, printed and signed by the artists. These cards appear smaller than in the actual deck, but are very sharp and give something of the feel of the Fine Art edition. Limited to an edition of 25. Also includes one Drowning World Poker Deck.

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    Limited 3 backers
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    Pledge $170 or more About $170

    One Fine Art Deck and one Poker Deck

    The Fine Art Edition of the Drowning World Poker Deck by Kahn & Selesnick. Printed on Museum quality rag paper with hand-cut square corners, signed and numbered by the artists. This fine art collector's edition is the ultimate incarnation of the Drowning World Poker Deck, similar in feel to hand-printed decks of the 18th century. Designed as an art object, this deck is not necessarily designed to withstand the rigors of constant shuffling. Comes in extra large size 4.5” x 3.125” x 1” with a special designed slipcase and band. Choose either lava flow (red, black, and ultramarine) or flood plain (yellow, brown, and aqua) back edition. Limited to a total of 200 copies. Also includes one commercial edition of the deck, fit for actual play, or to give to an envious friend or deadly foe.

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    Limited 20 backers
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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    A Panoramic Fine Art Print of the Deck

    A 16" x 36" fine art print of all the cards from the Poker Deck of the Drowning World arranged as a stack of the 4 suits, and printed by the artists with archival pigments on cotton rag paper, suitable for framing and placing above your couch before the waters rise up to turn your living room into a lacustrine ruin. In this version the cards appear full size on the print. Limited to an edition of 25. Also includes one standard poker deck to play while wearing animal masks on the iceberg of your choice.

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    Limited 4 backers
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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    2 Fine Art Edition Poker Decks

    If you can't choose between the lava flow and flood plain editions of the Collector's Edition Fine Art Poker Decks, why not get both? Especially when it also includes a standard edition of the deck that you can use to gamble away these and other valuable family heirlooms.

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    3 backers
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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    25 Deck Pack , available internationally

    For those who want a large amount of deck at our best wholesale rate, we are offering these at $16 a deck so you can give gifts to all your friends, resell them at your market , gift store or online poker palace. We are offering these internationally in hopes of making it easier for people to get the decks anywhere in the world once they all ship out.

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    0 backers
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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    A Fine Art Photo of the Queen of Weeds

    Her Royal Majesty the Queen of Weeds as photographed by Kahn & Selesnick, a limited edition print on matte fine art paper using archival inks. 10" in diameter on a 17" x 22" sheet. 7 prints only at this size. Also includes a standard Poker Deck.

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    Limited 0 backers
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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    30" circular print of the Queen of Weeds

    A large version of the Queen of Weeds, back mounted on a self-framing 30" circular plexiglass disk. 5 prints only at this size. Also includes one standard Poker Deck.

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    Limited 0 backers
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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Framed Original Watercolor Poker Deck

    The Ultimate Drowning World Poker Deck. This is the original hand-painted watercolor that we scanned to create both the commercial and fine art editions of the poker deck. Each painstakingly painted card fits together to make four panoramas stacked by suit. In 2006 we started an edition of 10 original decks, all hand-colored on original black and white drawings printed out on fine art cotton paper. Each is unique owing to the different approaches to watercoloring each one. This version was created after revisions were made to the original black and white drawings, making it (in our opinion) the best version we have yet done. It will be mounted on raw silk and installed in a white wooden frame. Approximately 24" x 48". Naturally a standard Poker Deck will be included.

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    Limited 0 backers
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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    The Drowning World Panoramic Poker Deck

    Early Bird Special. One 2.5" x 3.5" Drowning World Poker Deck, printed on deluxe playing card stock by the Expert Playing Card Company, available at a special price for the first 250 backers. With numbers and rounded corners, these cards are good for actual play, and for impressing friends with the story of the Drowning World, as told through a continuous panoramic scene, the implications of which will entertain and delight any and all willing to wager their planet's future for the sake of a few in the pocket.

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    Reward no longer available 250 backers
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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    2 Fine Art cards & 1 Poker Deck

    Two hand printed cards of the King of Icebergs and King of Birds, printed oversize to help you resist the temptation to squirrel them up your sleeves and miraculously lay down a hand containing 5 kings. Includes a Drowning World Poker Deck.

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    Ships to Only United States
    Reward no longer available 100 backers
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    Pledge $95 or more About $95

    1 Poker Deck & 1 Drowning World Book

    One Drowning World Poker Deck, and one "100 Views from the Drowning World", published in 2017 by Candela Books: Against a backdrop of ecological decline, this memoir/travelogue follows an itinerant theatrical troupe, Truppe Fledermaus, as they stage absurdist performances in various locations including Europe, America, and Japan. In these performances the Truppe are as apt to commemorate the passing of an unusual cloud as they are to be found documenting their own attempts to flee the rising waters of a warming planet or using black humor to comment on the extinction of bats and other animals.
    The book, whose physical design format is modeled on Ukiyo-e series such as Hiroshige’s One Hundred Views of Edo, contains photographs of the Truppe, their travels, and their performances with corresponding text narrating the images. It is the author’s preference to have the pages of the book be loose and non-linear so that readers can explore the images and story in any order they prefer.

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    Reward no longer available 25 backers
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Funding period

- (30 days)