More recently, a prolific artist caught our attention by using balloons to reunite cities. As part of his Monday Morning public intervention, New-York based artist and photographer Yazmany Arboleda decided to hand out balloons to people on their way to work – a total of ten thousand floating orbs in each of the cities involved. Since 2011, Arboleda has distributed orange balloons in Bangalore, India; yellow balloons in Nairobi, Kenya; and green balloons in Yamaguchi, Japan. The final act of his tour last year: the war-torn city of Kabul, Afghanistan.
Here, on a Saturday Morning (the start of the Afghan work week), the artist drew on the support of women’s rights activists, several NGOs and hundreds of volunteers to distribute 10,000 balloons filled with a message of hope and financed by fans from around the world who wanted to spread the word of love and support to the people of Kabul. Incidentally, Saturday Morning happened to be the first public art intervention since the start of the war – and will hopefully encourage residents to reclaim their native city.
Due to his architectural background, Arboleda is fully aware of the importance of public space and how a city tends to mirror its citizens’ social and economic situation. As part of his artistic mission, he deliberately picked metropolises that exhibit huge inequality or glaring gaps between different social classes and neighborhoods. By distributing his balloons evenly across the city, Arboleda not only disrupts everyday routines, but also creates a semblance of equality by treating everyone to the same gift.
Visible, visual, and inspiring, his airy vehicles and lofty idea(l)s carry a powerful message that connects cities: Beyond highlighting shared problems, they also rise above human weaknesses – and inspire us to overcome them.
Text: Frank R. Schröder
All images, incl. the header image: Yazmany Arboleda