Marwan Rechmaoui

Blazon, 2015

hand embroidery and appliqué on textile
Basel 2017

In his work, Marwan Rechmaoui derives inspiration from the geography and complex multicultural history of Beirut, reflecting on themes of urbanization and contemporary social and behavioral demographics. In lieu of mapping urban spaces – the artist does not view the city according to typical urban planning standards – he points to socio-political affiliations and etymological histories of each community. In Blazon, Rechmaoui applies the traditional practices of blazonry (or heraldry) and creates a coat of arms and banners corresponding to each city district. The full installation consists of 59 laser-cut brass and stainless steel shields and more than 420 appliqué and hand-embroidered flags, referring to each sector and neighborhood respectively. He classifies Beirut according to the sectors’ given names, while the flags portray architectural landmarks, monuments, geological elements, horticultural references, institutions, key figures, and family histories that shook and shaped the city. By understanding the city, its sectors, and its inhabitants, Rechmaoui’s project explores how different markers and signs can represent an urban space beyond the constructs of maps and borders.

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