Beirut is a vibrant place with a storied past… one which has left the city covered in scars that are still being repaired. Lebanese artist Marwan Rechmaoui often works with themes of urban development and social history revolving around his home country – in this case a large, floor based map of the current city layout. Titled Beirut Caoutchouc, the coastal Mediterranean city is recreated with heavy pieces of rubber embossed with roads, byways and segmented into 60 individual pieces that demarcate neighborhoods.
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Through highlighting the different neighborhoods, Rechmaoui brings awareness to the cities conflicted and sometimes divided society, looking at how it has shaped the form of the place and sparking questions about the consequences of cultural differences.
The second piece we feature here is actually a replica of Rechmaoui’s former apartment building – quickly evacuated in 2006 during the military conflict with Israel. The slightly unnerving model, called Spectre (The Yacoubian Building, Beirut), is presented to us devoid of inhabitants, standing like a deteriorating symbol of optimistic times now past. It was created using concrete and glass, held together by grout and thin wooden strips, and detailed with pieces of aluminum and miniature advertisements. Find out more about Marwan Rechmaoui’s work at the Saatchi Gallery.