'Erailen Gwome' – Grand Rapids, Michigan - Atlas Obscura

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'Erailen Gwome'

Fountain and Division

At Fountain and Division, in the shadow of Kendall College of Art and Design, lays the story of a fictional culture whose political system was used under license and who finally rebelled. 


Kcymaerxthaere is an art project created by Eames Demetrios. A series of plaques and other markers around the world honor events that have taken place in a parallel universe that, according to Demetrios, “co-exists to some degree with ours.” Most of these installations are bronze or stone plaques inscribed with stories but some are larger, even entire buildings. As of 2021, there are more than 140 sites spread across six continents and 30 countries.

In the annals of Kcymaerxthaere, it is rare to find a story of a franchise gwome that has a happy ending and the story of Erailen Gwome honored here has one of the happiest. 

Franchise gwomes were actually a fairly sad set of gwomes–they existed in virtually every rezhn–who licensed their form of government from Kuolyrmatys, a very powerful gwome (remember: gwome is a cognate term that means “footprint of the nation”). Seeing the economic success of Kuolyrmatis, they assumed if they went down that path, success would be sure and easy.

However, as a franchise gwome, some important things change quite quickly. A franchise gwome was still a democracy, but citizens over the age of 18 were divided into two classes: stakehaulders and placehauldersStakehaulders were anyone over the age of 125–or who was immortal.  The logic was impeccable: why should mortal losers who weren’t going to be around forever have the same rights as those persons who were in it for the long haul.  These were the persons who could vote.  As practical matter, this meant the electorate consisted of 125 year old humans, turtles and tortoises of that age, that really big fish in the bottom of the lake that no one could catch, and, of course, the kuolyrmajts.  When you visit the marker, you’ll learn the rest of the story.

Know Before You Go

Intersection of Fountain and Division (NW corner in front of Kendall College of Art and Design.

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June 23, 2013

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