One man’s pothole, another man’s art project. Meet the ‘Pavement Surgeon’ Ememem, who’s turning headaches into mosaic magic —one ‘mishap’ at a time.
Paris, France (24 March, 2023) — There are usual, expected reactions when we encounter a pothole, damaged pavements or other cracks in city upkeep. The sigh and swift move around. The grunt (usually accompanied by some colourful language). And of course, the community informer who wastes no time in alerting others to the latest edition of craters on our doorsteps (usually with an array of suggestions that usually stay on a WhatsApp group). Art is usually not on the agenda— unless you’re Ememem.
One artist in Paris —a city most of us overlook when it comes to the likes of pothole problems — has taken an artistic approach to provide solutions.
Their name? Ememem, AKA the ‘Pavement Surgeon’ who goes about filling sidewalk cracks and gaping potholes with gorgeous mosaic pieces while the rest of the city sleeps.
The local street artist goes about ‘flacking’, a term referenced by Ememem from the French ‘flaque’, meaning puddle, described as an act of ‘vandal love’. Through this process, The Pavement Surgeon patches beauty over downtrodden areas, restoring safety and turning an eyesore into eye candy.
Though Ememem’s story is said to have started in Lyon (where the artist was inspired by ceramics as a custom bandage), it grew in Paris and has since moved all around Europe.
“Since 2016, hundreds of ‘flackings’ have been born all over France and around the world.” — Ememem.
Here in South Africa, we know those cracked pavement and pothole woes all too well. However, with flacking added as a new word in our dictionary, hopefully, we can take some notes and start making our roads and pavements a canvas of our own.
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