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Photo: Peter Gugerell

The Kugelmugel — Austria

by Jonah Goodman

Under a roller coaster in the middle of a Viennese public park, surrounded by barbed wire, scaffolding, and signposts, stands the Kugelmugel Republic, a spherical, orange autonomous state, eight metres across. Originally built in 1971 in the Austrian countryside near Katzelsdorf, Edwin Lipburger’s Kugelmugel (or ‘ball bump’) was built without a construction permit, Lipburger claiming it to be a ‘constant curve in two-dimensional space, not covered by the Lower Austrian Building Code’. The government disagreed, sent Lipburger to prison for ten days in 1979, and relocated the Kugelmugel to Vienna’s Prater Park. There in 1984 among the amusement rides and behind the planetarium, Lipburger declared himself president of the new Kugelmugel Republic and began illegally printing his own stamps. Though he was sentenced to prison yet again, public sympathy won him a pardon from Austrian president Rudolf Kirchschläger. Now the only address in Kugelmugel, 1 Anti-Fascism Square, stands empty, although Lipburger, 87, remains president-in-exile over more than 600 self-declared, non-resident citizens.

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