400 Billion Dollars of Air, 2022


Digital Print on 15 acrylic plates, linen, cardboard
22.5 x 23.4 x 16.7 cm

Lebanese airspace has been violated by 22,111 Israeli military aircraft over the past fifteen years. Until recently, comprehensive data on the nature and frequency of these aerial operations has remained difficult to access. AirPressure.info, an online platform initiated by forensic artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, now compiles, transcribes, and presents recorded instances of fighter jets (about 9,000) and unmanned aerial vehicles (13,200) encroaching Lebanese airspace since 2007. These violations are not short flyovers but rather last an average of three hours and seventeen minutes each, amounting to over eight years of continuous illegal aerial occupation.
In 400 Billion Dollars of Air, Abu Hamdan distills the findings by AirPressure.info into an account of the comprehensible “atmospheric violence” inflicted by Israel’s illegal aerial intrusions on the civil population. Linking the ocular and the auditory, fifteen acrylic plates encapsulate Abu Hamdan’s concept of the “sonic image,” providing a textured visual rendering of the Israeli army’s incursion paths. For the citizens of Lebanon, the constant presence of hostile jets and drones serves as a reminder of the looming threat of aerial attacks. The disruptive roar of fighter jets cutting across the coastline and the persistent drone of unmanned aerial vehicles surveilling the southern skies have become distressingly routine aspects of daily life in Lebanon.
In bringing this information to light, Abu Hamdan exposes the ongoingness of a stealth war waged by Israel, even in the absence of open warfare. Covert operations, such as airspace violations and cyberattacks, along with the erosion of Lebanon’s sovereignty and psychological warfare tactics contribute to a sense of perpetual insecurity and instability, blurring the boundaries between times of war and times of peace. With an estimated total cost of about 400 billion dollars, the artist emphasizes the significant economic expenditures and political implications of maintaining this continuous state of emergency. Through this lens, Abu Hamdan invites us to reevaluate our understanding of airspace, framing it as a battleground of contested sovereignty and environmental degradation.
This website has aggregated, transcribed, and developed a comprehensive, searchable, and interactive database to make the Israeli illegal aerial invasions of Lebanon visible in their totality