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%.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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