Kings of Interstitial Space
Sunday’s NY Times brings news from the Venice Biennale of two Swedish artists who, stung by the absurdity of living in a country that still had a king, declared themselves the kings of all of the world’s indefinite boundary zones: wherever there is territory in between the definite borders, wherever the boundaries are blurry, there is their kingdom. And there are many places on earth where it is agreed that it is a very bad thing to be caught on the wrong side of the border, but neither side can agree on the exact location of the boundary line. In that hazardous blur of turf, these artists rule.
Their kingdom also has a very large population, since anyone who is dead is automatically made a citizen, with the option of applying to be removed from the citizenship roster if they find it offensive.
They offer passports, but I don’t think I can be a triple citizen as well as a dual one. I already hold an NSK passport, offered to all who wish to be citizens of the first artists’ state in time (rather than in space). NSK (Neue Slowenische Kunst) made their reputations in Yugoslavia when they won a Yugoslav government competition for a youth organization poster by copying the design of a Nazi youth poster. They later declared that Slovene independence was their most successful artistic project to date. Their passports bear (or at least bore) a valid sequence of numbers on passport blanks lifted from the Slovene passport office by an NSK sympathizer, which enabled NSK members to cross between Slovenia and Italy on NSK passports in the innocent days of a dozen years ago.
The United States doesn’t recognize dual citizenship, and the upshot of this is that as long as the dual citizen doesn’t attempt to re-enter the United States on the wrong passport, U.S. citizens can also be citizens of whatever other country will have them. I have friends who hold valid Irish citizenship (by virtue of ancestry) and E.U. passports in consequence. I probably shouldn’t point this out, since these days everyone is racing to defend the borders, but.
Another artist, who declined to acquire an NSK passport during their residency at the 1996 Olympics, said we would all be happy as NSK citizens until NSK started collecting taxes and calling up artists for the army. (Of course an NSK army would have to defend art in all times but in no place in particular.)
It would, I suppose, be a lovely conceit if the two kings of the interstitial kingdom sent letters to the warring powers who have been the primary creators of their indefinnite territory, demanding a demilitarized exclusion zone of at least a hundred kilometers on either side of the kingdom.