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Hashim Sarkis

Hashim Sarkis Studios, Balloon Landing Park, 2005, Beirut. Photo: Joumana Jamhouri.

ON FEBRUARY 12, 2005, a yellow balloon was launched into the sky over Beirut. It was a tethered helium model known as the Aerophile 30, large enough to carry a small group of passengers nearly a thousand feet aloft. An earlier version, installed in Paris’s Parc André Citroën, had been a popular and commercial success, offering adventurous riders a unique vantage onto the city’s landmarks. There, the urban park was a natural location for such a project, allowing the balloon to rise dramatically over a sweeping green expanse. But the nature of open space is fundamentally different in the constantly shifting urban environment of Beirut, where parks are far outnumbered by empty construction sites. And so, in Beirut, the balloon was placed at the edge of the city’s downtown, a vast, sixteen-million-square-foot construction site from which visitors would be able to ascend and monitor

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