The UNRWA Series: A Lecture with Marwan Rechmaoui

NOV 14, 2013 | 6:30 PM TO 8:30 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




November 14, 2013: 6:30 PM-8:30 PM





MEMEAC - co-sponsored with Alwan for the Arts


Artist Marwan Rechmaoui lives and works in Beirut. His city’s histories and geography are central to his practice. Rechmaoui is concerned with the dynamics of Beirut’s urban space, its transformation through time as well as issues such as civil life, migration, borders and demographics. Rechmaoui is best known for his sculptural works replicating the city’s buildings and topography. His large, monumental sculptures are often made of heavy industrial material, including his celebrated Beirut Caoutchouc (2004), a large rubber floor map of the city; Spectre (2006), a recreation of the modernist Yacoubian Building where the artist once lived and AMonument for the Living (2001), a large-scale architectural model of the derelict Burj Al Murr, the building overlooking downtown Beirut. Burj Al Murr was not completed and eventually abandoned early in the Lebanese Civil War (1970s); eventually it was occupied by the militia and turned into an outpost and a prison. Marwan Rechmaoui is the Resident Artist at Alwan for the Arts during November and December 2013.

In his book, he shows how Palestinian refugees chart their way through a make-shift world that was only meant to be temporary. Collaborating with the Arab Resource Collective (ARC), a non-governmental organization, camp residents from different age groups were asked to map their local surroundings. Then Rechmaoui took these diagrams, enlarged and reproduced them on different media—concrete, rice and sugar bags, corrugated metal—giving them a powerful sense of the day-to-day reality of the camp’s environment. Thus the artist seeks to create a “virtual Palestine” by linking the various communities living in these permanent “temporary” spaces.