This past Friday Giulietta and I attended the opening ceremony of The Consulate General of Zaqistan located at 655 3rd Avenue between 41st and 42nd street – just blocks away from The United Nations. The space was generously donated by the arts organization Chashma and will be open daily from 11am-7pm through March 3rd. On Friday, March 2nd there will be a closing party that will include a special lecture by Zaqistan founder and artist Zaq Landsberg. The lecture will highlight past expeditions to Zaqistan and the recent accomplishments of the Zaqistan Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina earlier this month.
Your first two questions most likely are: What is Zaqistan? and Where is it?
It all began in the summer of 2005 when Landsberg purchased 2 acres of land west of Salt Lake City, Utah (middle of nowhere desert) off EBAY for $610 dollars. His only thought at the time was to own a piece of land in the American west before it was all gone, however that desolate plot turned out to be the start of much more.
Just a month later, Landsberg and his friend, Jake Davidson, set out on the first expedition to what would later become Zaqistan. Zaq triumphantly marked his ownership with a red flag that bore an emblem of his name on the top Zaqistan’s highest peak, Mt. Insurmountable. In November of the same year, Landsberg recruited 25 people to take an Oath of Citizenship and sign a Declaration of Succession making the Republic of Zaqistan a sovereign nation.
Zaq, fellow artists and friends have since taken annual expeditions to Zaqistan to create and document site specific art works which include: three Robotic Sentinels (aka the guardians of Zaqistan) 2006, a Victory Arch 2009, a Customs Booth/Immigration Station 2010 (all shown below) as well as other separate art installations by Zaqistani visitors and/or citizens.
Landsberg explained to me that artwork documentation is key because as expected, in a years time the works are completely demolished or swallowed up by the desert’s harsh environment (Zaquistan’s first shelter, a Geodesic Dome built by Landsberg in 2007, was just recently discovered 3/4 of a mile away from the site half buried under a pile of sand).
The Consulate General of Zaqistan features artworks, photos (like the one directly above taken by photographer Arion Doerr), videos from past expeditions as well as found artifacts and soil samples. It also gives detailed information about the founding and rich history of this awesome micronation. Zaqistan merchandise/souvenirs are for sale and you also have the ability to apply for a passport. We Did!
Past Zaqistan expeditioners from left to right: Sofía Gallisá Muriente, Jeff Sisson, Zaq Landsberg, Jon Huron, Ingrid Burrington, Arion Doerr, and (front) Scott Riehs
The Consulate General was put together by the Zaqistan State Department which consists of:
Zaq Landsberg, artist, 2007 BFA graduate from New York University | Sofía Gallisá Muriente, filmmaker, 2008 BFA graduate from New York University | Ingrid Burrington, artist, 2009 BFA graduate from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)