Thursday, March 25, 2010

stockholm syndrome

tickly / model: sandra © Laura Kicey, All Rights Reserved.

After careful consideration, I have decided to launch a Kickstarter project, molded in the likeness of my 2009 Kicey to Iceland project - for 2010 I give you Stockholm Syndrome: A Jätte Swedish Adventure . To step up the game, I decided to integrate the creation of the book into the project and the option for some backers to own copies of it when it is complete, as well as still being able to select prints from the series I create. Since kickstarter was so young when I launched the original project, there were certain oversights in planning and budgeting on my part, and there have been some new functionality and publicity on Kickstarter's part, not to mention the oodles of positive media attention it has since received. I am hoping that I haven't worn out my welcome with patrons past, and meanwhile don't drive everyone else crazy/bored stiff with the related posts, meanwhile encouraging new backers.

It has just come to my attention that what I always thought of as a stereotype about Americans not knowing the distinction between Sweden (and all things SWEDISH) and Switzerland (and all things SWISS) - may actually be true, because a number of (unnamed!) people have been making some statements that I have now just pieced together as confusion about where I am going. Since we are addressing a stereotype, it seems appropriate to clarify with some more stereotypes! For those of you who are already clear on the subject, you can skip this part.

SWITZERLAND or things associated with being SWISS:

Switzerland is located in mainland Europe, landlocked by Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein. They speak French, German, Italian and Romansh. The major cities are Geneva and Zürich.

Some cultural things commonly associated with Switzerland:

1. Swiss Chocolatiers (Lindt, for example)
2. Swiss Cheese -Gruyère/Emmental and fondue
3. Swiss Movement Watches - like Swatch
4. Swiss Engineering / Precision (I am not sure what this refers to, maybe cars and watches)
5. Swiss Army Knives
6. Swiss Bank accounts.
7. Being politically neutral
8. The font Helvetica (which may be a major reason people think I am going there!) and typographic designer Max Miedinger
9. The Swiss Alps and The Sound of Music
10. Alphorns, Lederhosen, Skiing, Yodeling and Ricola

I have never been there.

SWEDEN or things associated with being SWEDISH:

Sweden is a Nordic country, and part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, to the north of mainland Europe. It borders on Finland, Norway and Denmark. They speak Swedish and the capital is Stockholm. Part of the country rests inside the Arctic Circle.

Some cultural things commonly associated with Sweden:

1. IKEA!
2. Volvos
3. Swedish Fish (which are not actually Swedish)
4. Swedish Meatballs
5. Being Blonde and HOT - like the Swedish Bikini Team
6. Vikings
7. H&M
8. Let the Right One In / very small vampires
9. Ingmar Bergman, Ingrid Bergman, and Greta Garbo
10. Being politically neutral
11. Fish and especially Lutefisk or fish 'cooked' to a gelatinous state in lye
12. Institutors of the Nobel Prize
13. ABBA, Ace of Base, Lykke Li, José Gonzalez, The Knife, Fever Ray, Peter, Bjorn and John.
14. The Swedish Chef on the Muppet Show.
15. Laplanders and the Sami people, also reindeer.
16. Turnips, also known as Swedes.
17. The place where I am going in May.

They are both European, politically neutral, begin with SW, and get lots of snow from time to time. I am sure there are a lot of things that are available in both countries, except maybe Lutefisk, which should be banned in all countries, Sweden included.

So, if you have an interest in my visual interpretation of Sweden, and would like to own a piece of art made by me, I encourage you to support my project, or follow along while I get this show on the road. I need to write another more in depth update in on going to NYC to visit my favorite Swede who was in town briefly, plus some other adventures and things coming together in exciting ways, some of which I cannot disclose just yet!

So stay tuned and check out my kickstarter project which gives more details about what is at stake and how you can participate! You can always access it via the widget in the sidebar --->

Many thanks for reading, and even if you just link to my project, it is VERY much appreciated! Please comment with any questions! Tack!

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Monday, March 08, 2010

coal in the veins

It had been three years - at least - since I had visited coal country, proper and I was beginning to miss it. I had heard some snippets from people who had passed through more recently and in particular I wondered what state Centralia was in these days, aside from perpetually on fire. A springy window of weekend weather was opening before myself and The Goldberg, just in time for our second anniversary (go US!.... for not killing each other. heh) - so the opportunity was seized. We headed directly for Centralia early Saturday morning, greeted by sun... and a great snow-covered barrenness that is Centralia, now.

tides © Laura Kicey, All Rights Reserved.

Much to my surprise, poised in the middle of a major mining vortex, there was now a wind farm one of the hills overlooking Centralia. I was suddenly reminded of that country near and dear to my heart - that I ne'er shut up about - Iceland. The rugged terrain, covered in colorful mosses, bleached wood, the wind, intense sun, the earthy sulphurous stench, the deep snow, the shells of small abandoned buildings. The buildings I had visited there in past - an abandoned house and a trailer home - were both gone - as were several of the houses that I recalled were being lived in at the time.

Byrnesville - which feels like an extension of Centralia rather than its own town - was almost entirely unchanged. Like its much publicized neighbor, Byrnesville shares the underground mine fire, which succeeded in driving all of its residents away. The familiar remains of what was once a miners' washhouse were covered in ice and snow and the sun shined strongly though the framework of what was left of the roof.

dotted eyes and crossed tees
dotted eyes and crossed tees © Laura Kicey, All Rights Reserved.

nut loaf
nut loaf © Laura Kicey, All Rights Reserved.

release © Laura Kicey, All Rights Reserved.

freezer burn
freezer burn © Laura Kicey, All Rights Reserved.

precipitation © Laura Kicey, All Rights Reserved.

elements © Laura Kicey, All Rights Reserved.

blueberried © Laura Kicey, All Rights Reserved.

The snow was still quite deep in places, but the combination of the warmth of the ground below and the sun had caused it to compact and become so dense we could walk on top of it without sinking in... though occasionally I broke through and ended up in up above my knees and flailing. The snow covered so much of the normally impenetrable brush, we could actually explore a bit more than I could ever reach in past.

your slip is showing
your slip is showing © Laura Kicey, All Rights Reserved.

After a quick drive round Shamokin we headed towards Knoebels Grove Amusement Park in Elysburg. Having grown up in Lancaster, we always visited Dutch Wonderland (an amusement park, much less grand than Hershey Park but closer)- so I have never actually seen Knoebels during the season. Visiting in winter, there are no lines, no spastic children just endless, empty kitsch.

in and out
in and out © Laura Kicey, All Rights Reserved.

unlocked © Laura Kicey, All Rights Reserved.

saturday in the park
saturday in the park © Laura Kicey, All Rights Reserved.

raise the roof
raise the roof © Laura Kicey, All Rights Reserved.

diaper rash
diaper rash © Laura Kicey, All Rights Reserved.

making an exit
making an exit © Laura Kicey, All Rights Reserved.

The tail end of our journey took us through Girardville into Shenandoah. Girardville running along Route 54, was an eerie, unstable town, seeming as though it could barely stand against the weight of time. More houses abandoned than lived it, all on the verge of collapse. The sun was hanging low but bright in the sky, and by the time we got to Shenandoah, we could scarcely see even to drive around. I caught a glimpse of this amazing old advertising on a restored warehouse just before we started to make our way back home.

never tires
never tires © Laura Kicey, All Rights Reserved.

For our anniversary we decided to try Distrito in University City for dinner. Philly's Iron Chef Garces' hot pink luchador-bedecked loft served us up some fine tapas style haute mexican. After having spent the day feeling sick to my stomach, I wasn't sure I could handle it, but actually I felt much better while sampling all the finery. Tres Leches with passionfruit curd as cure-all? Yes please.

And the big news: I've booked a flight for Stockholm in May. I'll spend 10 days wandering, possible out into the coutryside in the north or to the Archipelago. In the meantime, to get my Scandinavian fix, I will be seeing Sandra in a few short days, while she is in NYC for a movie premiere. Spring is coming, on Swedish wings!

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