Spectre | 2006-2008
Non-shrinking grout, aluminium, glass . 225 x 420 x 80 cm. Ed.2/5 +1 AP
Spectre archives an already-existing, forty-five year old building in Beirut. By replicating the building itself, we reveal all the transformations that have occurred to this massive structure due to the economic and demographic changes that took place in Lebanon over time. Spectre (The Yacoubian Building, Beirut) is an exact replica of Rechmaoui’s former apartment building. It was initially built to house the Arab elite with their newly found oil. Once the civil war broke out and Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978. The residents abandoned it, taking their financial assets out from Lebanese banks with them. The building was taken over by refugees, and eventually, squatters. It was evacuated again when Israel invaded in 2006.
Rechmaoui’s installation evokes an eerily vacant ghost of a building that subtly buckles and warps in a precarious balance. Made of concrete and glass, held together by grout and thin wooden strips, it points to a once vibrant community and its deterioration (with its shop fronts and colorful doors); revealing cultural, political, and economic actors responsible for an increasingly anxious, unstable relationship to place.
Spectre recreates every detail along the borderlines marked by the inhabitants. It examines the traces people leave behind and explores how urban life is impressed upon a city’s surface. At the same time, it refuses to divulge what goes on in people’s lives within.
Biography of the artist
Born in Beirut, Lebanon. 1964
Works and Lives in Beirut, Lebanon
Deriving inspiration from the geography and rich cultural history of Beirut, Rechmaoui's work often reflects themes of urbanization and contemporary social and behavioral demographics. He uses industrial materials such as concrete, rubber, tar and glass to create tactile works on a large scale.
His works have primarily focused on local landmarks, such as "Beirut Caoutchouc" (2004), a sprawling map of Beirut made of black rubber and embossed with precise details of roads and byways. Rechmaoui’s other major works include "Spectre" (2006), a reproduction of the modernist "Yacoubian Building", "A Monument for the Living" (2001), a large-scale architectural model of the derelict Burj Al Murr replicates a never completed, abandoned 1970s high-rise, which towers over downtown Beirut. In 2011, Rechmaoui debuted his UNRWA series, which included hand drawn maps on concrete, wood, and tin of Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, and a series of found objects exposing different cluster munitions collected after the 2006 war in Lebanon. Rechmaoui’s "Pillars" (2014-ongoing) keeps the theme of deconstruction /reconstruction with an installation of domestic objects – various materials collected from crumbled ruins of a residential buildinq - embedded in a concrete pillar: a basic structural element in urban architecture. Flowers, pillows, amonq other decorative items reflect the burden of the past, which is still prevalent in the postcolonial period. The proiect had its first public displav in the 2015 lstanbul Biennial.
Rechmaoui’s work has been shown in exhibitions in Lebanon and abroad, including the "Musée Granet", Aix-en-Provence, France (2013); "Serpentine Gallery", London, UK (2012); "Saatchi Gallery", London (2009); "Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Switzerland (2009); Musée d’art Contemporain de Nîmes, France (2008); and Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels", Belgium (2008). In 1998, he had a solo show at "Centre Culturel Français", Beirut. He has participated in the São Paulo Bienal, Brazil (2006), and the Sharjah Biennial, UAE (2005).
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