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Let Baby You Lift Your Spirits

As the sun hung low on the Milwaukee horizon on June 21, a large, peacefully sleeping baby rose into the sky and floated above the glistening waters of Lake Michigan. Lulled to sleep by songs from a choir of people, the newborn came to rest in the air over a crowed of awed onlookers in Veterans Park.

It turned out that this was actually Baby You, an art project put together by Polish magazine Przekrój. The 112-foot-long hot air balloon in the shape of a sleeping infant that rose over the park for Make Music Day Friday symbolizes the possibilities dormant within all of us: just waiting to be awakened—as limitless and endless as the skies.

“Each of us has greater potential than we tend to think,” said editor-in-chief of Przekrój Joanna Domańska in an interview just before the event.

For those participating in the Make Music Day festival, which saw hundreds of people come together to play music and sing, the sight was stunning.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” one woman said.

“Is it a bird or a plane . . . ?” someone else joked.

But the editorial team at Przekrój, who watched the spectacle unfold from both the US and our offices in Poland, stood calmly—looking at the sky, listening to the music, and reveling in the remarkable outcome of months of hard work. In our editorial office, we know that, often, the things that may seem impossible, are possible. We also know that they are also the most beautiful. We have been eagerly conveying this idea to our readers for almost eight decades—first, among Polish people since the 1940s, and in recent years (thanks to our new English edition of the magazine), among people all over the world.

The extraordinary auditory and visual Baby You event also symbolizes the deeply human experience of community. It reminds us that we were all children once: innocent and defenseless, full of dreams and untapped opportunities.

Even more importantly, it reminds us that we can all awaken this inner child within us. Sometimes all it takes is stopping for a moment, letting negative thoughts go, and looking at the sky, the earth and the nature around us.

All infants, regardless of skin color, country, religion and other surface differences, are nearly identical at our core. We all started as the same sleeping infant. So, instead of focusing on what divides us, it’s worth looking inside ourselves, noticing similarities, and trying to cultivate and nuture them.

The Baby You project was borne out of a collaboration between the Przekrój Foundation and Belgian artist Bart Van Peel. Fittingly, the project took nine months, from start to finish, involving engineers, designers, and tailors from Poland, Belgium and the UK. The balloon, made out of a special material, changes color when exposed to light, reflecting the many different shades of human skin.

While Baby You was an artistic success in its own right, it also drew a large crowd, despite the storm raging over the city. Not even rain nor lightening could wake the child slumbering in the sky or scare off awed spectators.

In addition to Baby You, Przekrój also brought an exhibition of our most famous covers, giving festival participants a chance to browse through the magazine’s archives—all the way back to its beginning in 1945.

Make Music Milwaukee is an annual celebration, and one of several similar celebrations happening around the world on the same day, dubbed Make Music Day. The festival, which is held on the summer solstice, is a chance for people to come together and hold concerts, jam sessions, and other musical events on the streets, parks, and in public spaces.  

The unique festival encourages all people, regardless of musical ability, to find joy in the simple and beautiful act of creating music together. Our balloon show was accompanied by an a cappella choir, conducted by Lee Stovall, performing a piece composed by Michael Schachter.

The success of the event is proof that the near future belongs to extraordinary, independent festivals—festivals with soul, with orginiality, with surprises (like a giant baby floating in the sky).

And, though we’re keeping our cards close to the chest for now, there are rumors that Baby You may take place in other cities in the near future. Until then, let the floating, hopeful image of Baby You lift your spirits, and your dreams.

Photo: Brian Slawson
Photo: Jonathan Klett
Photo: Jonathan Klett
photo: Kelly Michael Anderson
Photo: Kelly Michael Anderson
Photo: Kelly Michael Anderson
Photo: Kelly Michael Anderson
Photo: Kelly Michael Anderson
Photo: Jonathan Klett
Photo: Kelly Michael Anderson
Photo: Bert Lauderdale
Photo: Brian Slawson
Photo: Kelly Michael Anderson
Photo: Kelly Michael Anderson
Photo: Kelly Michael Anderson
Photo: Brian Slawson