There is a large film industry in Rocaterrania.
January 7, 2011 6:57 AM   Subscribe

Rocaterrania is a country located in part of what's often known as the North Country of New York State, bordering on Canada. At least, it's there in the mind of Renaldo Kuhler, its creator, who has been imagining -- and sometimes physically creating -- the nation's politics, fashion, and artifacts since he was a teenager on his family's ranch in Colorado just after World War II. The son of Otto Kuhler, who designed the Hiawatha passenger trains of the Milwaukee Road railway, Renaldo needed an escape from ranch life. He invented a nation of forward-looking Eastern European immigrants with a vibrant, distinctly un-American culture. He warns, though, "it is not a Utopia." He has drawn, painted, and been the nation's history. He created its language, Rocaterranski, and alphabet from Yiddish and Spanish and German. Rocaterrania is a large-scale work of fiction but sometimes the way Kuhler speaks, it sounds like he believes it's really there. Kuhler now lives in Raleigh, North Carolina and is known about town for his Rocaterranian garb.

In 2009, Brett Ingram released a feature-length documentary, entitled simply Rocaterrania, about Kuhler and his until-then-secret creation. View the trailer here.

I first learned of Rocaterrania at the American Visionary Art Museum in early 2010. AVAM suggests educators encourage students to create their own world (warning: PDF).

Brett Ingram has appeared previously on Metafilter.
posted by knile (12 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Countdown until Rocaterrania shows up in an Alan Moore comic beginning... now.
posted by mightygodking at 7:02 AM on January 7, 2011


Kuhler now lives in Raleigh, North Carolina and is known about town for his Rocaterranian garb.

skin-tight lederhosen?
posted by ennui.bz at 7:27 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This seems a bit like one of those experiments growing plants in zero gravity: what will creativity produce when driven and shaped only by pure boredom in a vacuum?

Is it slightly bad manners to situate your imaginary country in real territory? I have the impression it's good form to place it in non-existent or paradoxical geography - undiscovered islands or the interstices of adjacent states.
posted by Segundus at 7:38 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interesting that he should create an imaginary country but not want to live there. Could it be the weather?
The record coldest temperature is -52° at Stillwater Reservoir (northern Herkimer County) on February 9, 1934 and also at Old Forge (also northern Herkimer County) on February 18, 1979. Some 30 communities have recorded temperatures of -40° or colder, most of them occurring in the northern one-half of the state and the remainder in the Western Plateau Division and in localities just south of the Mohawk Valley.
posted by tommasz at 7:54 AM on January 7, 2011


It's amazing that almost any past time can become interesting and worthwhile if one brings such sheer levels of effort and creativity to it.
posted by orange swan at 7:57 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I grew up in the North Country, though east of the template for his imaginary country, and I find it bizarre that he used it to fuel his imagination. But good on him. There really isn't much up there--mostly farms settled originally by Irish and English immigrants, and later French Canadian families. There are a few small state universities too.

It does get cold, too. February is the worst. Every winter there would be a week where the high temperature didn't get above 0 Fahrenheit. I remember one night when it hit -20 and we could hear the siding on the house cracking. Gah.
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:31 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


tommasz: "Interesting that he should create an imaginary country but not want to live there. Could it be the weather?
The record coldest temperature is -52° at Stillwater Reservoir (northern Herkimer County) on February 9, 1934 and also at Old Forge (also northern Herkimer County) on February 18, 1979. Some 30 communities have recorded temperatures of -40° or colder, most of them occurring in the northern one-half of the state and the remainder in the Western Plateau Division and in localities just south of the Mohawk Valley.
"

I was in Old Forge that day. Just a teenager, but I remember that week well. My nose still hurts thinking about it. On the other hand, come July after the black flies have come and gone, there is not a better place to be in this country than in the ADK.

I am still confused as to why this guy would pick where he did. I cannot wait to tell my friend's son who goes to school in Potsdam that he is in another country and not Canada. He does not like to travel to new places, so this will be a shock to him.
posted by AugustWest at 9:27 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This made me miss the North Country. I spent 5 years at SUNY Potsdam because I loved it SO much...

I remember the winters of 2001-2 and 2002-3, we hit -40 both winters. There was a period of time in Feb 01-02 that the temp didn't top -16f for a week.

I remember something specific about -16: it is the temperature where your snot freezes upon a single breath through your nose.
posted by aloiv2 at 10:40 AM on January 7, 2011


I remember something specific about -16: it is the temperature where your snot freezes upon a single breath through your nose.

Which makes a great temperature gauge here upstate. It probably only happens 2-3 times per year, but when I feel the snot freeze, I know it's time to not be outside anymore.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:27 AM on January 7, 2011


I once sat down next to Renaldo at the bar of a now closed restaurant here. It was late afternoon, he had a coffee, a beer and shot of something all sitting in front of him. He was happily chattering away to himself. I said hello, how was your day etc. He said my teeth look like chiclets. I don't remember what all we talked about but at one point he took out his checkbook, flipping through the register. It looked like lines & lines of ornate accounting calligraphy. I said, "Wow I hope I never get in line behind you at the grocery."

I'm happy Raleigh has some quirky characters. Something has to offset the Starched Underwear Brigade of government, of which there is entirely too much in this city.
posted by yoga at 1:39 PM on January 7, 2011


The Hiawatha bares a remarkable resemblance to the Victorian Railways S Class. Same period. The S Class is way prettier
posted by the noob at 5:58 PM on January 7, 2011


bears doh
posted by the noob at 6:08 PM on January 7, 2011


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