Marwan Rechmaoui, Beirut By The Sea, 2017-2018, Exhibition view, Sfeir-Semler Gallery Beirut, 2021
Following the city’s districts that he mapped multiples times, the work is composed of 13 pieces, each representing one of the 13 coastal boroughs. Ever reflecting on the harsh urban tissue of Beirut, Rechmaoui represents it with solid concrete, that stands against the natural fluidity of the beeswax sea. In between these two contrasting elements, the shoreline is traced in brass, bent to follow the sinuous coast and solidify the natural border. The map created might be different from old maps of the Beirut coastline, and reflects on the expanding city that has slowly crept onto the waters. It also presents a city that has been robbed of its public spaces, as the vast majority of the natural waterfront has been either replaced with private upscale resorts, or polluted by landfills and sewers. Beirut by the Sea embeds many historical, geographic, environmental, and socio-urban narratives that are central to Rechmaoui’s work.