State of Sabotage
In June of 1992, artist Robert Jelinek founded the “Sabotage” group in Kassel, Germany. “Sabotage” began operating that year as a small project/collective, and in 1994 they became into “Sabotage Communications — an art organisation and music label”. Eventually, “Sabotage” evolved into “a union of various sublabels brought together by their shared way of thinking and similar style of expression through different media.” These “sublabels” are simply “a number of flexible subdivisions which emerge as the needs arise and dissolve under their own inertia. Each of the sublabels primarily works within its medium, nevertheless their bonds are firm and fruitful. The fields of activities of Sabotage defy definition of contents, theme and geographic concentration and therefor different projects and target groups are represented in different sublabels”. These sub-groups fall under the category of art — Sabotage acts (since 1992), Alibi Service (1992-95), Sabotage events (Since 1994), Sabotage projects (since 1995) or CaSH (1998) — and music — Sabotage Recordings (1994-99), Craft Records (since 1995), Subetage Records (since 1999). “Since 1992 more than 100 international ‘public sabotages’ have taken place in form of performances, actions, events and exhibitions…‘Sabotage’ in this sense means the braking of conventions, the artistic interruption of processes of thinking and manipulational transfer. ‘Sabotage’ is not a technic that transports meaning. Sabotage transgresses positions without presenting a new social order, provokes thinking by intervening in the official discourse. Sabotage is the experiment to brake up incrustation of an organised bourgeois society that insulates itself against all changes and tries to make thinkable new possibilities.” Etymologically, the name “Sabotage” originates “from the French word ‘sabot’ and means ‘to trample with wooden shoes.’ A sabot is a clog with a leather top. At the beginning of agricultural mechanization French farm workers threw their ‘sabotes’ into harvesting and processing machines (which were taking their jobs), thereby blocking the complicated mechanics of the mowing and threshing machines and rendering them useless. For the sake of their labor, they engaged in ‘sabotage.’”
For this organization, “Unpredictability and subversion” (characterized by solidarity and unity) became “escape routes through the system of dominance.” In their quest towards greater individual self-determination and collective autonomy, these close-knit saboteurs clip-clopped their way into the micro-national world. Enter “Amorph!” (the most important and influential performance festival of Europe), which took place in Helsinki from August 29-31 of 2003. That year's theme was “Micronations”. Fitting to the theme, the festival was relocated to the uninhabited island of Harakka, just 100 meters off of Helsinki. During this international summit of mini-states, conferences, presentations, proclamations and performances were presented by representatives of the individual micronations. “On August 30, 2003 at 1:00 pm Finnish time…SoS (the State of Sabotage) was called into existence before a large audience. ROBERT JELINEK and H.R. GIGER, together with ‘HUUTAJAT,’ the Finnish 25-man screaming men’s choir, ceremonially inaugurated the state.” According to their “official website and electronic embassy” (, the State of Sabotage “is a secular, sovereign and democratic state.” Their “State Constitution was publicly recited and resolved on September 4, 2005 and has been valid and legally binding since that time…The assets of the SoS state are the creation, protection, mediation, and positioning of art and culture. SoS is the first sovereign cultural state according to international law. SoS fulfills all criteria required of a sovereign state (territory, population, and state organization), as well as education and training in terms of artistic freedom.” The long list of ideals promoted by the State of Sabotage include: “Education, vision and utopia” and “Internal locations and dislocations, displacements and dissolutions of the self-compositions that form a living society” and “the conservation, protection and creation of the freedom of art and culture.”
The artistic process is at the heart of the State of Sabotage: “State diplomacy is conducted through artistic sovereignty and trans-nationality — art as state as a direct form of independent state art…The German concept of Staatskunst (art of state) alludes to the fact that in governments of previous centuries the balancing and equalization of manifold factors and powers was in fact understood as an art. The antiquated concept of Staatskunst also has another meaning: It reminds us that in former times the promotion of art and culture was seen as a state goal and rulers recognized that art and culture were essential components of their wealth and capital. The SoS state is bound to this understanding of ‘state art’ and strives for the development and promotion of its own SoS Art Foundation. In cooperation with various artists, artistic practices, models, visions and utopias, as well as trans-national characteristics, will become visible and new conditions of the reality of state and art will be exemplified.”
Though headquartered in Vienna, the State of Sabotage “is not a geographic place, but rather a concept. SoS is also primarily an idea and only secondarily a concrete territory. SoS has no pre-defined territory, but one that is characterized by constant, and theoretically unlimited, growth. SoS has no indigenous population, but is open to all those who wish to join of their own free will. The territory of the State of Sabotage grows with each new citizen.” The State of Sabotage “may emerge anywhere geographically” and these regions/provinces “are clearly demarked as State territory.” Thus, “the State of Sabotage is not a purely virtual community, it encompasses real state territory. In September 2003, SoS first hoisted its flag over its own territory on the fifth continent.”: Baldrockistan, situated in Australia (between Tenterfield and Stanthrope, 3km from Bald Rock National Park on the New South Wales-Queensland border). “Even if the SoS state only secondarily represents a concrete territory, the development of its own territory in Baldrockistan is of recreational and spiritual significance. The grounds already offer accommodations, an excellent road network and electricity. In the next few years, artist studios and artistic projects should emerge in harmony with flora and fauna, without the intention of settling. Baldrockistan is a neutral zone. Just like natives and visitors, the SoS state is itself a guest in Baldrockistan/Australia. The grounds are utilized and protected in accord with nature, aborigines and natives.” The SoS Art Foundation plans “award travel and residency scholarships to/in Baldrockistan/Australia to young artists…And artistic productions, conferences, events and workshops are also planned on the SoS grounds in Baldrockistan/Australia.” Other SoS territories include Circle Rock and Pendulum House in Austria, and Trinity in the Czech Republic. In addition, the State of Sabotage claims a Shadow Empire (The Dark Night of the Planetary Soul), which they describe as “a virtual continent, a rhizome-like plateau for the SoS citizens. In contrast to the real SoS territory in Baldrockistan, a trans-national map without beginning and end grows here in the sense of a ‘state of mind,’ determined entirely by the citizens themselves. The sizes of the individual areas in the SoS Plateau mirror the rented or owned space of the citizens, such as apartments or property.”
Part of their philosophy has to do with the concept of “Despatialization”: “A landless people cannot succumb to the same fallacy that has imposed itself on almost every settled people throughout history: to understand the land itself as the container of the people and their own land as the a-priori of their life meaning or identity. This ‘territorial phantom’ is still one of the most effective and problematic historical heirlooms because it is tied to the basic reflex of all seemingly legitimate uses of violence, national defense. It is based on the obsessive equation of place and self — the axiomatic error in territorial reasoning. Yet it is increasingly becoming exposed as an overpowering wave of transnational mobility ensures that many peoples and territories relativize their liaisons. SoS citizens are nomadizing or de-territorializing groups who constitute themselves not only through their immunity to supporting soil. Rather, their communicative interactions function as an autogenous vessel in which participants contain themselves and stay in form while the group drifts through external landscapes. As a portative state community SoS offers real transit spaces, places at which people convene, yet without wishing or being able to bind their identity to a locality. SoS spaces and places do not depend on a regular inhabitance or on a collective self. It is peculiar to SoS that it does not retain its visitors. An invulnerable license to change land and self remains untouched by global tendencies.”
The adherents of SoS define the “state” as a static entity (both terms derive from the Latin word status). “In our contemporary understanding the state is a kind of steely skeleton or matrix — constructed so that it can provide structure, grounding, and duration to a constantly changing society. Political scientists and state theorists, however, maintain that the state reached the apex of its development in the seventies and has since been in decline. Yet even at a time when the state is being pushed out of more and more areas of life and continues to lose esteem, it remains the highest existing authority — precisely because the state is more static than other forces affecting our lives. On the other hand, the state is inferior to these highly dynamic forces and lags helplessly behind the newest developments in science and technology.” The citizens of SoS are willing “not only to unfurl the banners of cultural independence, but to signal real political statehood, to attain it and to share it with others. Statehood in the sense of legal framework and instruments is the prerequisite for individually reclaiming retracted social-political rights, free spaces and cultural structures. SoS does not presently wish to join ideological blocs or systemic structures through international agreements or contracts. Politically, SoS neither can, nor wishes to be a great power. It is precisely the advantage of a microstate, with its minimal administrative organization and competent trusted partners, that it creates a high degree of flexibility. SoS has the quality of a cultural state. It knows neither officials nor functionaries — it knows only self-determined artists and active associates.”
The status of the State of Sabotage “is not determinable, but SoS is rich in non-tangible resources, thus rendering it in contradiction to the society and their demands. Life, from the standpoint of technology or economics, is never completely controllable. And therefore it is always a disruptive factor, a potential act of sabotage. It’s not about rehabilitation or securing a seat at the concert of human rights, it’s about destabilization. SoS is a phantom-like, viral, spectral presence in the synapses of our brains, with a finger on the ignition switch of our own rockets. In logical, creative consequence of its artistic process, SoS has designed an instrument for the culmination of human potential — the state as the ultimate negation of the civilized Occident…SoS is a design for life, a parallel alternative to existing forms, developments and impending conflicts…Only existence according to international law and artistic freedom are relevant. The endeavors of SoS are based on this consciousness. SoS recognizes and respects the limits of its own capabilities. As a territory, SoS continues to grow and can emerge anywhere on the globe. As a political entity, SoS can achieve more than its size suggests. It is up to the active citizens, friends and partners to strike out and pursue the right path with the necessary interest, instinct, and joy.” In 2003, the State of Sabotage drew its own artistic conclusions and declared “itself a state — a state in time, with its citizens' territories constantly growing, but without the demarcation of national borders. Everyone can own an SoS passport and enjoy the status of an SoS citizen. SoS is a physically vital collective body, installed in real daily social and political space. It is a growing organism whose dynamics, spirit and diversity are shaped by the citizens themselves.”
The State of Sabotage has issued an undated Five SoS piece. I purchased the aluminum and copper versions . Brass and silver also exist. See
In the end I would like to thank Mr. Eric Victor McCrea from the above information on State of Sabotage.
Chiefa Coins