The Origin of the Republic of Zaqistan
Zaq Landsberg purchased the two acres that now form Zaqistan off of the online auction site, ebay. Landsberg exchanged $610 for the land. Landsberg deemed it necessary to own a piece of the American West before it is all gone. The deed was granted to Landsberg on the 26th day of July, 2005. The deed was filed in the Box Elder County Recorder's Office on the 8th day of August 2005.
Later that month Landsberg and Jake Davidson ventured out into the unknown. Setting off from Los Angeles the First Expedition meandered through Arizona and Southern Utah before approaching what would become Zaqistan. They slogged along more than 15 miles of dirt road sand from the side of Terrace Mountain, they proceeded on foot and at 8:05 am on the 31st day of August, 2005. Upon arriving at the future site of Zaqistan, Zaq summitted and triumphantly plant the Zaq flag atop Mt. Insurmountable.
Zaq Landsberg plants the flag atop Mt. Insurmountable, filmed by Jake Davidson
The Declaration of Secession
The Declaration of Succession was written by Zaq Landsberg on the 19th day of November, 2005. After taking the Oath of Citizenship upwards of 25 citizens signed the Declaration. Landsberg was the first to sign at 10:27 PST. After all had signed titles were issued. Much jubilation ensued.
Zaq Landsberg signs the Declaration of Secession
Expeditions to Zaqistan
Landsberg has organized trips out to the nation for the past seven years. The early expeditions comprised of Landsberg and one other person. They were characterized by modest building projects and attempts to find the easiest route to Zaqistan. What the early expeditions didn't have in budget or experience with the terrain, they made up for in shear will.
Scott Riehs and Sam Feather-Garner haul supplies to Zaqistan
The Fifth Expedition was a turning point, instead of accompanied by just one other bold companion, Landsberg convinced nine crew members to follow him into the desert. The project in 2009 was the Victory Arch, an impressive accomplishment considering the crew fabricated and erected monument in three working days. LIke the Fifth, the Sixth and Seventh Expeditions have also featured transcontinental journeys, multiple trips into the desert and a crew of at least five. Becoming more experienced with the terrain and the climate, the most recent expeditions have focused on improving infrastructure and public works projects. Since 2009, the Expeditions have marked of set paths, named places and installed signage. Zaqistani customs, such as the traditional mid-day siesta have solidified. As of 2011, 17 people have traveled to Zaqistan, six of which have made the journey more than once.
On August 9th, 2006 the Second Expedition to Zaqistan departed from Los Angeles, CA. On August 14, Landsberg and Jeffrey Herbst arrived in Zaqistan. It took Landsberg and Herbst two trips to haul the material to assemble three robotic sentinels, a variety of tools and water. Despite blistering desert heat, Landsberg and Herbst walked more than 11 miles roundtrip and worked through numerous technical setbacks, to complete the three seven foot tall sentinels along Zaqistan's Southern border.
A Robotic Sentinel standing guard along the Zaqistan-United States Border
The Third Expedition to Zaqistan departed Los Angeles, California on June 24, 2007. The mission was two-fold, to establish a semi-permanent outpost to provide shelter and shade for the present and future, and to try and access Zaqistan by motor vehicle. The Expedition was successful on both accounts, but as with the Second Expedition, not without difficulty. The overland route to Zaqistan is passable, but barely. The expedition's mini-van soldiered over large desert brush, uneven terrain and mud before reaching Zaqistan.
Zaq Landsberg and Jeff Sisson assembled a geodesic dome out of steel piping. Draped in camouflage netting, adorned with mannequin legs and equipped with a hammock, the completion of the first building in Zaqistan was done by dusk on June, 26 2007.
The Third Expedition filmed and edited by Jeff Sisson
The Fourth Expedition to Zaqistan
The Forth Expedition to Zaqistan launched from Los Angeles on August 12, 2008. The focus of the expedition was to begin work on a permanent fortification. Sandbags were an obvious choice for building material because sand is one of the few natural resources abundant in Zaqistan.
The Expedition arrived in Zaqistan on August 16. The 4th Expedition reached Zaqistan with mountain bikes and a rugged bike trailer to haul supplies. Regrettably the terrain proved to be slightly too soft for bikes to be an efficient form of transportation to Zaqistan.The expedition sited the tower atop Mt. Insurmountable to get the maximum height and field of vision. At first progress was rapid but structural inconsistencies caused the tower to collapse at a height of 10 feet. It was rebuild shorter but still provides a beacon and a lookout post.
Jeff Herbst and Zaq Landsberg atop Mt. Insurmountable
The Fifth Expedition to Zaqistan, consisting of Sam Feather Garner, Fran Agone, Ingrid Burrington, Ryan Legassicke, Charles Harlan and Zaq Landsberg, departed Brooklyn NY on August 22, 2009. Entering Salt Lake City, Utah on August 25 the Expedition took one day to gather material and build the framework of the Victory Arch, as well as obtain all necessary supplies and provisions for the desert. The amount of material, equipment and Expedition members being much greater than in any previous Zaqistan journey, the expedition enlisted the help of Cody Anderson and his truck (met through craigslist) to haul all supplies and personnel to Zaqistan.
The first wave of the Fifth Expedition upon arrival in Zaqistan
The Expedition endured a rough off road journey in the truck, arriving in Zaqistan slightly before sundown. The next morning, the Expedition sited the Arch and and construction began. The Expedition assembled the framework of the Arch that morning and by afternoon erected it. By sundown the Arch was almost complete and sturdy enough for all six members to watch dusk fall on top of it. They packed out the next day and headed west via Salt Lake City and Las Vegas before refitting in Los Angeles.
Hanger Cairn, the first artwork supported by the Zaqistan Arts Council was installed by Charles Harlan.
The second wave of the Fifth Expedition stands underneath the Victory Arch
Landsberg and Legassicke departed from Los Angeles with three new members, Sofia Gallisa, Henry Kaplan, Heather Kramer, and picking up Naomi Marine in Salt Lake City, the Expedition journeyed out to Zaqistan on September 5, completing work on the arch by noon on September 6th. Breaking camp, they returned to the car and the Expedition headed east back to Brooklyn.
The Sixth Expedition to Zaqistan comprised of Ingrid Burrington, Sam Feather-Garner, Sofia Gallisa and Scott Riehs. Like the Fifth Expedition, the journey began from Brooklyn, NY. The Expedition arrived to Zaqistan to find that the Victory Arch had fallen over, and the geodesic dome had mysteriously disappeared. Despite these set backs, and enduring both blistering heat and relentless winds, the Expedition was able to restore the Robotic Sentinels, build a customs booth/immigration station, erect a 17 tall flag pole and place signage all around the nation.
The Sixth Expedition among the ruins of the Victory Arch
Landsberg planted a bed of wildflowers, and Feather-Garner set up the ephemeral night installation piece Ring of Fire. The documentary Defiance: Zaqistan at Five Years was shot on this Expedition by Gallisa and Riehs as was Once Upon A Time in Zaqistan.
The Sixth Expedition beside the first signage in Zaqistan
In the summer of 2011, the Seventh Expedition to Zaqistan departed from Brooklyn, NY. The Expedition was graciously hosted en route by The Experimental Station, in Chicago IL. Landsberg lectured on the geopolitical implications of running an unrecognized country and the history of previous Zaqistan expeditions. The next day, a group of local youths participated in a Nation building workshop, where they created their own countries, drew maps, made flags and determined what forms of government they would implement.
President Downtown Fast Eddie, parades the flag of his nation Fast Eddieville
The Seventh Expedition, comprised of Ingrid Burrington, Alex Collins-Shotwell, Arion Doerr, Jon Huron, Henry Kaplan and Zaq Landsberg left with the goal of developing infrastructure and restoring what's currently in Zaqistan. The Expedition rented an ATV , in an attempt to solve the ongoing problem of how to to transport building and survival supplies over the rough terrain to Zaqistan. The experiment was partially successful, the ATV hauled a large amount of water and supplies before puncturing a tire and rendering the vehicle immobile. A significant amount of energy went into solving the problem of how to get the ATV with three good wheels across two miles of open desert, and another 15 or so miles on dirt roads back to the trailer. This problem was solved with help from an intrepid local from Montello, NV who took his truck off-road far enough so the ATV could be nursed into the bed of the truck and back to the trailer.
Another wild surprise came in the form of visitors. For the first time in seven years, people with no previous connection to the country, entered its boundaries. Two retired men from Ogden Utah, who make it their hobby to explore remote sites in the desert, had heard rumors of something strange in the vicinity of Zaqistan. Having previously seen the glint of the robots from a small plane, they decided to check it out and happened upon the Seventh Expedition to Zaqistan. They were welcomed through the customs booth/immigration station before making their way back to the dirt road.
Landsberg grants access to the first ever visitors to Zaqistan
The mystery of the disappearance of the Geodesic dome was solved on this trip, it was discovered 1/3 of a mile from it's previous location at the Zaqopolis. Whether it had been blown by wind or moved by humans remains unclear.
In an effort to provide lasting shelter from the elements, the Seventh Expedition began work on a sandbag bunker. The crew cut into a gentle slope in an effort to blend the building into the landscape. They filled sandbags rapidly, and within three days of tough but constant digging, raised a sturdy and lasting structure.
Ingrid Burrington installed Secret Device for Remote Places on the outskirts of Zaqistan.
The Eighth Expedition to Zaqistan
Samuel Feather Garner, Clark Allen, Ricardo and Zaq Landsberg ventured out to Zaqistan in August 2013 on the 8th Expedition. Despite the brutal heat, dust storms and at least one rattlesnake, the Zaqistan Defense Force got some training in.
There was also a small fireworks display celebrating the 8th year of Zaqistani Independence.