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NICOLAS KAHN and RICHARD SELESNICK have been collaborating for ten years on painting, sculpture, photography and writing that portray the fictional world of the royal Excavation Corps in 1930' s England. Their work is in numerous collections, including the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C.

Kahn was born in New York City. Selesnick born in London, divides his time between Truro and Palisades, New York.





" City of Salt " Exhibition 2001

Titles : The Dreamer and The Dreamed - Entangled! - Suspended! - Luggage - The Three Brothers -

Burnt! - Lost in the Desert - The City of Salt - On the Edge of the Marshes - The Tale of the Sajikman and the Majasta Lily

Woodsman - Odalisque - Oceansong


The exhibition will feature a complete installation of a city of salt, constructed of small-scale salt-encrusted clay buildings, along with artifacts, transcribed stories, and an editioned series of color digital panoramic images. Text excerpt from "City of Salt" Exhibition: The city of salt now lies quietly on the flats; its formerly bustling alley ways are now destitute, its market places and squares buried

The city was built by a king in the distant days of the third dynasty. According to local legend, the king had once wandered his capital one night during a time of plague, the more he wandered the more he became enamoured of the deathly silences and stillness that held sway over the capital. By morning he had resolved to build a deserted city as a funerary monument, a city where he could wander in solitude for eternity

The construction took many years, but the king never once visited his dream city during this time, choosing to observe its progress from a distance as not to break the illusion that his city was unpeopled. Eventually the city was completed, but still the king waited; many wondered if he had forgotten about it entirely, or had lost interest in the fanciful notions of his youth. Unbeknownst to the general populace however, the king had already left for his city - he had waited for an evening remarkably similar to that evening during the time of the plague, and he had stolen away accompanied only by one faithful servant as a companion, who was to hold the king's horse outside the city gates

It was a fine moonlit night, and the king felt ecstatic as they crossed the salt flats. How his city gleamed in the distance! But at a certain point during this journey, a creeping anxiety began to prey upon the king. Surely this night was a most unreal night, fragilely beautiful to be sure, but subtly poisonous, overly alive in its clarity. The king grew pensive, and began to question his desire to wander alone for eternity, imprisoned in a city of his own illusions

The dead city seemed to represent the crumbling of the mighty empire he had inherited and that had been put in his charge; within his swoon he found it hard to remember where its borders lay, whether it had prospered or foundered during his reign. It now seemed to the king that during his solitary night wanderings during the time of the plague he had become enraptured with the face of death

Looking about him, the king realized his companion was nowhere to be seen. More alarmingly, the capital, from which he had come, seemed to exactly resemble the dead city to which he was heading, so much so that the king could no longer distinguish between them. It was as if he was standing before an enormous mirror, the moon hung low over each city, the flats receded infinitely towards the identically crystalline mountain ranges

Terrified that he might see the twin image of himself, the king attempted to close his eyes, only to find that they already were closed. Opening them, he again saw the dead city before him, now with a waking clarity, the only city that had ever existed - was it his past or future that had been stolen from him - the king wondered. Surely I died during the time of the plague, how vivid the deserted city looked to my dying eyes as I wandered it for the last time, I felt as a king amid the stinking silent alleyways, the beggar thought to himself


Text excerpt from "Scotlandfuturebog" exhibition 2000

Titles : Sumpfweissager (Bogseer) - Schneckentempofrher (Snailpaceshepherd) - Friedfurtigmann (Peacefulone)

Hinterbachen (Hindquarters) - Zeitfensterbohrloch (Timewindowsinkhole) - Wolletrager (Woolcarriers)

Brotmorgendämmerung (Breaddawn) - Barzahnstange (Bearrack) - Sumpfinselwurmloch (Marshislandwormhole)

Zeltritus (Tentrites)


In a certain sense, it is irrelevant to speculate on the origins of the bogdwellers because they have become free of the tyranny of history. For this reason traditional written and spoken languages have been abandoned in favour of obscure non-hierarchical acts. In the grand scheme of things the moving of a stone from a bleak hillside to a gloomy valley a long distance hence has more significance than that of a stupendous invention of the invasion of one territory by its neighbour or even that of the apocalypse itself

Within this schemata, the pursuit of personal comfort and happiness are unknown, and thus so too is crime and evil. It could be said that the bleak world of the bogdwellers is an eden, a paradise, a return to man's nature state before the fall, but this would fail to portray the infinite darkness that permeates the brooding silences of their world. In fact the bogdwellers, resemble nothing so much as a people waiting for the apocalypse to be visited upon them, left mute in the face of its exorable descent

Following on from these observations, it becomes impossible to say whether these men with their blocks are those who have attained that knowledge which can not be communicated and found it dark, or those who have rejected it and are condemned to carry its vehicle as their penance. But perhaps it does not matter: free of linear thoughts and actions, of the wheel of cause and effect, the bogdwellers are masters of time, and thus it does not matter whether the apocalypse is before them or behind them in the past or in the future

Rather, like the gain and loss of momentous knowledge, the realization of great desire or the loss of all hope, they bear the weight of the apocalypse in each moment they are alive; each rock they move, each lard block they carry, simultaneously causes an adverts the coming catastrophe that is now past


The Circular River : The Siberian Expedition 1944 - 46


Titles : A Man Who Is To Become A Shaman Is Buried Up To His Head In The Sand - A Russian Spy Is Captured - In The Mummy Fields

We Reach The Frontier Of The Buryat Territory And Discover A Pyramid Of Prayer Flags

Balog And The White Shaman Prepare Hallucinatory Powder From The Pasternak Root

As Our Supplies Dwindle, A Storm Approaches and Forces Us To Take Refuge In The Rocks

Balog Demonstrates The Dance Of Yer Tunigi - The Battle Of The Shamans And The NKVD

We Encounter A Group Of Russian Scientists Who Claim To Have Unearthed A Mammoth

We Visit A Mountain Top Shrine Built To Honor A Famous Buryat Lama


In late 1942, former glider pilot and REC member Peter Hesselbach was reported missing in action during the Russian offensive that repelled the German Army back across the Dnieper River. When The Corp's head, Gordon Bindon-Bhore, received the news he immediately assigned a team of psychics to search for Peter using an obscure technique called remote viewing. Several days later, an REC remote viewer named Tyler McWeeks became convinced that Hesselbach was still alive and lost wandering in the vast remote region of Siberia east of the Indigirka River

A three man expedition consisting of Bindon MacRupert, Ian Brockman, and Gerrard Wescott was organized to travel to Siberia and attempt to rescue Peter; as a secondary objective they were to study indigenous tribal shamanism. On May 6th, 1944, the expedition was parachuted deep into Siberian tableland with several months worth of supplies, and a considerable quantity of barterable goods. However, by November the expedition, having never correctly gained its bearings, had failed to locate any tribal settlements and was on the verge of succumbing to the harsh Siberian winter

At this point the three men were dealt a miraculous stroke of luck - a passing Buryat shaman named Balog discovered the ailing men and single-handedly rescued them, dragging them down to the banks of the circular river where he nursed them back to health using medicinal herbs. Furthermore, he agreed to act as a guide and interpreter for the expedition. For the following nine months, the renewed expedition explored the tribal homeland of the Buryat, studying shamanic traditions and searching for Peter

They heard many stories of their friend; he had attained a sort of legendary status with the tribe, as the following entry from Ian Brockman's journal indicates: Peter had come to a village where the natives had never seen white men. Wanting to make a good impression, he had apparently mystified his audience with his miraculous powers. First, with great panache he yanked out his teeth; then to even greater astonishment he pulled out an eye, producing wails and screams from the crowd

The Buryat inquired if all white men entertained these skills, and could he please remove his arms and legs. They were obviously unaware of such Western niceties as glass eyes and false teeth. We heard many different versions of the take-apart white devil story. Eventually, the expedition received definitive evidence of Peter's whereabouts from a Buryat family Peter had apparently married into; he had traveled deep into the marshes where the circular river originated to fulfill his destiny, to become a shaman. If the expedition could find the sacred thermal pool known to the Buryat as the "Navel of the World" they would surely find him there, transformed into a God...











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