Asif Farooq and Rob Goyanes at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio in 2014, looking at a real MiG-21. Photo courtesy of the kind man who agreed to take our photo

Artist Asif Farooq has been building a full-scale replica of a Soviet MiG-21—made completely out of paper—since 2009. Goyanes started writing a book about the artwork in 2014.

As a technical manual, the book will muse on the paper plane’s many parts and functions. As a conceptual guide, the book will provide historical and philosophical context for the warplane.

Hinging on a biography of Asif Farooq, whose life is just as monumentally detailed as this piece of art, the book will document the events leading up to the creation of Balalaika, the wild and harrowing process of creation, and its journey thereafter.

Tied up in the bewildering story of global aviation—especially Russian, American, and Miamian aesthetics and politics—the book will be a mix of historical exposition and critique, while telling the story of the very special life that Farooq has lived.

During the course of initial research for the book, several texts have been published:

Courtesy Special Collections, University of Miami Libraries

A History of Human Flight in 58 Bullets” appeared in The Miami Rail.

Asif Farooq inside the central fuselage of his MiG-21. Photo by Allen Henson

Asif Farooq’s Paper Plane” appeared in Interview.

Amelia Earhart in Miami, circa 1934. Seville Smith Torre, photographer. HistoryMiami, 2012-233-2.

Amelia Earhart’s Hialeah Layover” appeared in The Miami Rail.


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