Aux Arts etc. (extract)
It is not common to see a city hall strongly protected from external aggressions by a thick wall of sandbags. This type of passive defense is usually reserved for situations of war or attacks, and is not common in any case in the Kingdom of Belgium. In fall 2010, by raising in front of the city hall of Flémalle (Liège), a wall of a thousand sandbags, containing some nineteen tons of sand, Marie Zolamian managed to make an impression and to provoke controversy, as well in the population as on the administrative side. That this installtion has found its place in a collective project of public art, focusing on citizenship and called in a nod to Joseph Rouget de Lisle, “Aux Arts, etc.”, gives to it a singularly delicious resonance. However, at the time of the technologically assisted attacks or the equally dreaded suicide bombers, it would not escape anyone that this type of protection would no doubt demonstrate very quickly its limits of effectiveness. It is thus more in the questioning, the reflections, even the aroused perplexity that this impertient visual installation has found its firepower. The personnel itinerary of Marie Zolamian of Armenian descent, based in Liège but born in Beirut in 1975, shortly after the beginning of a long civil war, probably explain in part the artist’s interest for this kind of scenario. She echoes her own family background, while tying up her own exiled roots with the countless rhizomes of a collective memory, an industrial basin of the Meuse valley, itself quite dismantled. Relying on other historical or ideological events, this memory is certainly not hers, but all the work - the quest we might say - of the artist is that very one: mending fragmented fabrics of multiple “others”, darning scattered parts, bring closer fragile memories of near relatives as distant neighbors, and give his own perception of today’s uncertain identities.