Artist: Robert Jelinek / txt: Hervé Massard


The State of Sabotage is both a work and a state, which evinces the social/societal limits of an artistic reality by manifesting the attributes of state sovereignty. Hence, the work of the “State of Sabotage” is itself to some extent part of what it contests: The kind of sabotage meant here has as one target the structure created by its own artistic intention – the artistic reality becomes its own adversary. The passports, flags, anthems, manhole covers, or coins of SoS do not suffice for it to escape its self-imposed constraints: the state has a date of expiry. This entropy, anchored in the constitution, is the logical conclusion of the construct – every state is an obsolescent model. Yet to do justice to the omnipresence of state power, the state founder conceived for SoS a possibility of outlasting itself. He forged a legend that can become a future foundation myth: The original SoS state grail was split into three fragments; three ceramic figures whose ­existence is justified by being part of local museum reality. They form a trisected keystone of this state. Three sentinels watch over the state from the three most remote and distant museums in the world: on Spitsbergen, in Ushuaia, and on Stewart Island. The resulting supra-territoriality guarantees the invulnerability of the state form. And yet, whoever manages to again bring the three pieces together captures and conquers the state, which can then be redefined. In pedestrian terms, this means that putsch is an option, an option created to save the state, as a transient power system which it imitates, from itself. The SoS is a quasi-epiphenomenal work, for its development continuously pursues an inverted image of a microstate’s sovereignty and ultimately results in its disappearance. SoS’s ­associated acts of realization serve to manifest the ideal that essentially supports and impels the work. Yet these acts also form the object against which the consistent application of ­ self-imposed constraint – the end of state – will finally turn. Art in general is a matter of representation. Yet in this case, the work additionally declares itself to be a representation of a community that was formed exclusively by the poetics of the work itself. In this project especially, the work also consists of the idea that other people have of it. The peculiar fragility of this form has also led to the project becoming a program. And what is more, it now demands that the program be carried out. In order to gain possession of the three art objects, a sailor would have to navigate an ocean route from Spitsbergen to Tierra del Fuego to Stewart Island. Transporting the resulting cargo of art and artistic attributes of SoS’s sovereignty – the collected figures – the sailor becomes a momentary symbol of the effective disempowerment of the state and the state becomes the only citation of itself as an art form. There is no representation of the high seas, for they are themselves one in representing the Promethean in humankind – power, freedom, knowledge, and much more. The SoS symbols of sovereignty brought together in one boat redeem the work from the constraints of material manifestation by joining it as a representation into another work – the representation of the high seas, which alone creates ideal realities. The end of the state is a continuation of the work.

Hervé Massard