23003 Citizens
The Journey Embassy


Nowhereisland became a nation on 20 September 2011. It is formed from territory under the jurisdiction of another nation state. The territory was physically removed with permission from that state. The territory travelled on board a ship and was declared a nation as it passed into International Waters at 80° 14N  10° 30E.

The formation of Nowhereisland and the journey discussions and negotiations over the rights to its territory, mirrored the processes by which nations have been formed for centuries – though this is the first time a nation has been declared by literally displacing its territory – its rocks and soil – from one place, in order that it might exist as a nation on the move.

The extraction of a portion of Nyskjaeret was carried out with the permission of the Governor of Svalbard, who is entrusted with protecting the Environment of Svalbard according to the Environmental Act of 2001. When he first discovered­­­­­­ the uncharted island in 2004, as a British citizen, Alex Hartley, consciously parodied his own nation state’s imperialist acts to dominate islands all over the world as “off-shore colonial possessions” in his request to claim the Arctic island. This act of ‘land grab’ was typical of the archipelago’s history. But in 2011, this was exchanged for an act of displacement – characterised by some as an act of vandalism, by others as an act of generosity, and for those concerned with global issues such as climate change, as an act of political activism.

This section of the online Embassy offers the opportunity to delve deeper into the processes of nation-building – from the world’s most recently internationally recognised nation state, South Sudan, all the way to Lovely, a micronation run from a comedian’s apartment; from the political implications of land grab, to the symbolism of a nation’s flag.


Become a Citizen
Twitter About the project
Resident Thinkers
Logbook Facebook
Press Contact

Nowhereisland is a Situations project led by artist Alex Hartley, one of 12 Artist Taking the Lead projects for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad funded by Arts Council England. We also gratefully acknowledge the support of the University of the West of England, Bristol; Bloomberg; Nicky Wilson Jupiter Artland; the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Royal Norwegian Embassy and Yellowbrick Tracking.

Identity designed by Fraser Muggeridge studio and Wolfram Wiedner, website by Wolfram Wiedner.