Beirut by the Sea, 2019
Beirut by the Sea maps the Beirut coastline, looking at the city’s shores on the Mediterranean Sea. Responding to his extensive research on the city of Beirut, which has informed some of his iconic works such as Beirut Caoutchouc, 2004; the artist looks at the boundaries of the city, the exact point where the land ends and where the sea begins. Following the city’s districts that he mapped multiples times, the work is composed of 14 pieces, each representing one of the 14 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 can be read as a stand-alone piece, embedding many historical, geographic, environmental, and socio-urban narratives that are central to Rechmaoui’s work.