Summer 2005

The Kingdom of Elgaland-Vargaland

Gathering up what’s between

Schematic diagram of the political structure within Elgaland-Vargaland. The constitution guarantees every citizen’s right to move freely within the hierarchy. The acronym KMV stands for “The Materialization of the King in the World.”

With effect from the 14th of March 1992, we are annexing and occupying the following territories:

1. All border territories between all countries on earth, a­nd all areas (up to a width of 10 nautical miles) outside all countries’ territorial waters. We designate these territories our physical territory. These territories, usually called No Man’s Land or Border Crossings, are in constant flux. They change everyday, and in reports from all over the world we notice that new territories appear (e.g., the North and South Korean border), disappear (e.g., the East and West German border in 1989) and reappear (e.g., the Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian borders). We also observe nations’ fishing territories waxing and waning. There are frequent foreign violations at sea; vehicles with cargo, refugees, tourists, political and military maneuvers; animals and fishes walk and swim freely, insects and birds buzz and sing. Theoretically/practically, all past existing areas such as the borders between Texas and the USA, between England and Scotland, or between Sweden and Skåne (at the time belonging to Denmark), are annexed by the Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland.

Thus begins the declaration, signed by artists Leif Elggren and Carl Michael von Hausswolff, that formed the beginning of an experiment in government that has grown in complexity ever since. The declaration goes on to announce the annexation of all other forms of interstitial territories, including the Hypnagogue State (the state between being awake and being asleep), the Escapistic Territory (conscious, mental space travel akin to daydreaming, telepathy, and so on), and the Virtual Room (a borderless digital space).

Currently with more than 600 citizens and a number of Ministries ranging from the crucial (the Ministry of Pleasure and the Ministry of Cartography) to the whimsical (the Ministry of Lamination and the Ministry of Audiology), Elgaland-Vargaland has combined political critique and mordant humor in order to undermine the pieties of traditional states and point slyly toward their array of failures. The manufactured poverty and class differences of first-world states is exposed through gestures of poetic excess, such as the printing of a million thalers (the official currency of Elgaland-Vargaland) that belong equally to all citizens. The kingdom’s tenth anniversary in 2002 was marked by a group of citizens boarding a boat from Stockholm to Talinn, Estonia, carrying only their Elgaland-Vargaland passports. After being detained for a day for trying to enter Estonia with false documents, the citizens were placed on a boat and sent back to Sweden. As King Leif I states, “Our purpose was not to provoke the border police. Our purpose was to go home to Elgaland-Vargaland’s physical territory: to get rejected at the Estonian border, then go back and be rejected at the Swedish border, back again to the Estonian border, etc., etc., you know, for ever. They did their job and took our passports, so we just had to go back to Sweden.”

Elgaland-Vargaland physical territory, Svinesund, on the border between Sweden and Norway.
If you’ve enjoyed the free articles that we offer on our site, please consider subscribing to our nonprofit magazine. You get twelve online issues and unlimited access to all our archives.