Monthly Archives: November 2015

Official Zaqistan Press Release

Zaqistan is consuming my life to such a degree that I’m questioning who I am in the first place. Why am I working so hard on this insane project? Who knows. Anyway, we have a couple events coming up, so I thought I’d share with you our official press release I’m sending media outlets. Take a look if you’re interested…

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The 10th Anniversary of the Republic of Zaqistan

November 19th, 2015, marks the 10th year anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Zaqistan, and to celebrate Twilite Lounge is hosting an Independence Day party. CUAC is buying a beer for every official Zaqistani citizen in attendance, and Zaqistani citizenship can be applied for and granted by Rep. Michael Abouzelof at a pop-up kiosk in the bar. Citizenship is free for those who meet the criteria of truly wanting it.

This event will be followed up by an academic symposium held at CUAC on December 3rd. On that night, we will be discussing the concepts behind Zaqistan, the recent media frenzy, as well as how the micronation fits with the history of Utah.

In case you are unaware, here is a quick background on Zaqistan. In 2005, New York artist Zaq Landsberg purchased two acres in a remote Utah desert for $610 off of eBay. After venturing out to the land that summer, Landsberg and a few friends who would become the first Zaqistani citizens declared independence from the United States and founded the Republic of Zaqistan. Ten years later, and with the help of writer Michael Abouzelof, Zaqistan has morphed into an international phenomenon that calls into question what it means to be a nation is in the first place.

Over time, Landsberg has built an array of monuments and public works on the land, including a Victory Arch, a customs booth immigration station, and robotic sentinels that protect the borders. Zaqistan has opened a temporary Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina and a Consulate-General in New York City in 2012. The Zaqistan State Department has issued more than 175 passports to date, and more than 300 people around the world hold Zaqistani citizenship.

Described as a “sovereign nation” by Conan O’Brien, “conceptual art project turned into a literal example of nation-building,” by Vice Media and acknowledged by US Congressman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) as a “country,” the Republic of Zaqistan exists on a multitude of different levels. While public figures joke about the micronation, refugees from around the world have sought asylum there. It is a plot of land, a severely weathered sculpture garden, a national identity, a conceptual art piece, a de-facto sovereign nation, and a probe into the meaning of sovereignty, legitimacy, nationalism, perception, and reality.

To date, Zaqistan has been reported on in 40 countries and in more than 27 languages. It has been featured in Vice, the NY Daily News, PEOPLE Magazine, ARTE (France), The New York Times, Deseret News, KSL, WGN Radio, New York Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, USA TODAY, Fox News, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Yahoo! News, Business Insider, The Seattle Times, The Miami Herald, The Denver Post, SFGate, Salon, DunyaNews Pakistan, Emirates 24/7, Irish Examiner, Egypt 1, Singapore News, Kenya Central, and many others.  

Michael Abouzelof is a writer and representative of the Republic of Zaqistan. In the past he has been described as “a living example of the dysfunction of the American medical system.” Currently writing for VICE Media, he specializes in radical economics with a pop culture twist, late night existential discourses, and potentially treasonous conceptual art projects.

CUAC, formerly known as the Central Utah Art Center, is an artist-run contemporary art venue located in the heart of Salt Lake City. Their aim is to continue to be a pioneer in contemporary art in Utah and to take a multifaceted approach to community development through education, exhibitions, symposia, criticism, education about art collecting, and collaboration.

Twilite Lounge is a Salt Lake City dive bar that has been in operation since 1947. Home to an assortment of people from all walks of life, it is a popular neighborhood spot for young and old alike. On the night of the decennial party, they will be serving an assortment of drinks that feature the finer points of Zaqistani mixology.

The Salt Lake City event on November 19th is part of a global celebration of Zaqistanis coming together to mark the country’s decennial. Concurrent festivities will be held in New York, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam and Paris. The event is free and open to anyone 21 and older.

November 19th, 2015

8 PM–1 AM

Twilite Lounge

347 E 200 S

Salt Lake City, UT

The symposium on December 3rd will be held at CUAC. The discussion will be held from 6–7, followed by a general mingling from 7–8. It is free and open to all.

December 3rd, 2015

6 PM–8 PM

CUAC

175 E 200 S

Salt Lake City, UT

Contact zaqistanslc@gmail.com for more information.

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God Save Mike Abu

There hasn’t been an overwhelming amount of good things that have come out of the $18,000 dollars in medical bills I’ve racked up since August, but this video is definitely one of them.

My buddies Spencer Wohlrab and Jackson Chapman collaborated on a Go Fund Me page to raise some money for me, and since the page needed a video, Spencer put together this little guy. The $1,500 people donated turned out to be super helpful, but realistically the best part of the whole thing was knowing my friends had my back. Major injuries can be extremely demoralizing (trust me, I know), so knowing my scumbags friends actually care is, well, nice. Maybe there’s something to that whole “birds of a feather” thing. Either way, here’s the video.

[DISCLAIMER: It’s pretty ridiculous]

You can still donate here if you’re interested.

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Cool Runnings (Quite Possibly the Dumbest Thing I’ve Ever Written)

So I had to do this focus group, right? It’s all about snowmobiles and why I’d want one, which clearly means I had to stretch the truth. I mean, what would I do with a snowmobile? I have no truck to transport it, no money to buy it, and absolutely zero interest in owning one in the first place. Nonetheless, there was a fifty dollar prize for whoever made the most creative piece (which I crushed by the way), and I figured I’d just mess around with it and see what came out. It’s terrible, utterly terrible, but it does have some moments. Here are the three questions I had to answer:

1) WHAT YOU THINK YOU WILL LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR VEHICLE

Be it a snowmobile, personal watercraft, all-terrain vehicle, side-by-side vehicle, motorcycle, 3-wheel roadster or boat, we know you are contemplating ownership of one. Please let us know what you think you will LOVE most about it? Ultimately, what is the appeal? Why do you want one of these vehicles? Please show us through a few images.

2) WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH YOUR NEW VEHICLE?

What do you envision doing with this power sports vehicle? Where will you go? With whom will you be? What activities will take place?

3) HOW DO YOU THINK YOU WILL FEEL?

Think about when you actually have this vehicle. Think about doing with it what you referred to on the prior page. How do you think it will feel? Please tell us about what you think it will mean to you to own it, use it, drive, ride it. What will you get out of it? Perhaps think about how you might complete the sentence – “Driving/riding my new vehicle will make me feel ____________.”

What is life like without it? How do you feel about not owning one today?

Here’s my response…………………………………………………………………………………………..

COOL RUNNINGS

Chapter 1

Since the dawn of time, snowmobiles (a.k.a. Chariots of the Arctic) have given humans quick access to areas that might otherwise take what feels like forever to get to. Not only are they insanely awesome to ride, they provide riders with a command of the elements that transcends them from the world of mere mortals to the realm of the Gods.

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They are fast, sleek, no nonsense machines that can be used in a variety of ingenious ways. For some, they are purely recreational; for others, necessary for survival in isolated communities. Carl Eliason, who is considered the inventor of the snowmobile, found  the machines to be ideal for hunting. “With this machine, I was able to turn the tables on my hunting comrades–as long as there was snow on the ground. While they hoofed it on foot, I would ride and get to our destination in the woods an hour ahead of them!” Although the machines can be loud enough to alert potential game of a hunter’s presence, the ability to move with relative ease through the snow is simply too advantageous to ignore.

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However, since I do not hunt, none of that applies to me. The real reason I would love my new snowmobile is similar why bikers love their motorcycles–they provide an avenue for going where no man has gone before, an enhancement of liberty as I continue my quest for discovering true freedom.

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True freedom and picking up chicks.

Chapter 2

Of course, there might be more to life than finding true freedom and meeting women. Possibly. For me, having fun with my friends brings color to my life, and having a snowmobile would allow us to color outside of the lines. I cannot say for certain where we go, as I envision me and my two best friends traveling through parts unknown, following our hearts into territories that would otherwise remain foreign to us. I can see it now; blizzards, bears, our own self-doubts–these would no longer be obstacles for us. If anything, they would provide us with unique moments to reminisce about once we got back to the lodge. A sense of comradery can be found through such experiences. I have no doubt that Mike Brown, Jon Larsen and I would become better friends because of our snowmobiles.

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I would also want to look like the polar version of Ayrton Senna, a Formula One race car driver who tragically passed before his time. I would coordinate my outfit to match my snowmobile with his image in mind, dressing all in red except for my signature yellow helmet. That way there would be no question who was lapping the other snowmobilers.

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Chapter 3

Obviously my snowmobile would make me feel awesome. Why wouldn’t it? Everything I’ve described rules so hard that I can’t imagine feeling anything less that fulfilled. True, eventually I would have to return to civilization and resume my day-to-day existence, but knowing that I now have the ability to feel that level of coolness–both figuratively and literally– would give me something to look forward to. Although the general drudgery of work would still be unavoidable, I’d know that soon I’d be flying across the snow.

Both figuratively and literally.

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Now that I think about it, life without my snowmobile totally sucks. Am I wasting my life? Why am I here right now, sitting in this room, when I could be out on the backwoods trails, the crisp wind chilling my face as my all-powerful machine warms my heart? Human beings are both blessed and cursed with our ability to conceptualize, and whereas thinking about my snowmobile while I sit in a cubicle is something I’d love, sitting in my cubicle thinking about how I don’t have a snowmobile is completely crushing. Life is already hard without having to realize that you don’t have a snowmobile, and with that in mind, is there really any question of why I want one in the first place? No, there isn’t.

I want a snowmobile.

I need a snowmobile.

And as God as my witness, I will have a snowmobile.

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Note: I chose these photos because they reflect exactly what I think when the word snowmobile comes to mind. Outside of Aryton Senna, all characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

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