Patchwork of Narratives – When you enter a city, you enter a story

The multicultural city withholds opportunities and challenges, cultural richness and fragmentation of society. Patchwork of Narratives, autumn 2014/ winter 2015, focuses on two cities that throughout history constantly been affected by these issues, two cities who repetitively change between interaction and fragmentation, Beirut (Lebanon) and Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

As in few other cities Beirut have risen from civil war and invasion and regained its economic development over and over again. However the huge urban development projects undertaken by private stakeholders in recent years are rarely rooted in the citizens needs. Meanwhile Beiruts city map and its development is strongly characterized by a division between the country’s different ethnic groups.

Mostar is also a city strongly defined by physical and mental fragmentation, under many years the Bosnien War divided the city between Bosniaks and Croats. The legacy of the war is still very present and undoubtedly most distinctly in the very central no man’s land, the District, a hollow urban buffer zone between the city’s ethnic communities.

By enabling cultural institutions and cultural actors to take a more active and strategic role within the framework of urbanization issues the project will promote sustainable and democratic urban development in Mostar and Beirut. The project creates, for the first time, the so necessary and requested cross-border dialogue within the city and between the cities different social sectors.

The experiences from Beirut and Mostar are presented during autumn 2014 in exhibitions in each city. A joint exhibition at Färgfabriken in winter 2015 will highlight and capture the issues, ideas and experiences raised in Beirut and Mostar.


Patchwork of Narratives – When you enter a city you enter a story
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Patchwork of Identities – Joachim Granit
For several years, Färgfabriken had a unique opportunity to implement projects and exhibitions in various cities throughout our world. In Asia, former Eastern Europe and the Balkans, in the Middle East and in our immediate surroundings around the Baltic Sea. Meeting people with different cultural experiences and perspectives has taught us much. Everywhere, we have seen a willingness and a commitment to finding solutions to make our cities more livable. We have seen that there are themes that are universal. Such as democracy, transparency, as well as economic, ecological and social issues, which of course, bounce back to how cities are physically planned and built. In many cases there are structural barriers that hamper sensible development and change.

Bridge Over Troubled Waters – Michael Azar
“Wherever there is a body there is some sort of power imposing itself upon it. Marking and labeling it.” writes professor Michael Azar. In his essay “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Azar contemplates the way people tattoo themselves with stories, like logos, in order to be able to identify themselves and others. How we create enemies and friends, how we can use rumors and false histories to solidify our opposition to each other. It is a text about trying to become an individual while realizing our individuality is based solely on the stories of the dead and the calls of the living. Stories that we repeat to ourselves to either touch the truth or ignore it. Empires, weaknesses, power, logos and zombies, it is a text that scours the underworld of how we form our identity in the modern metropolises of the urban community. Of how we can come to believe we are what we are, perhaps, even when we are not. Ultimately it is a text about connections their tying and untying.

A Jump into the Water – Arna Mackic
“What stays behind after the death of a city?” Savaged beauty, bullet holes as ornaments and prejudice. In Arna Mackić A Jump into the water. We visit Mostar: gorgeously in ruins and (re)constructed in the ‘separate and equal’ fashions of the divided metropolises of today. Among this division sits the Central Zone a place belonging to neither side, almost ahistorical, of no importance to the cultural divisions that rip Mostar apart, and so it is one of Mostar’s most important places. We visit the Stari Most in search for a common urban material and symbolic language in search of a unity deeper then religion, built upon the physical joys of human life and playfulness. Mackić brings together different sources to break the architectural barriers that support difference and division and helps the reader experience the weightlessness and fun of flying while falling. “Everything that we viewed as ‘meaningless’ was left untouched after the war.” writes Mackić as the author examines the absolute importance of historical fact and how one can come to forgive it.

Beirut’s Heart – Rania Sassine
In Beirut’s Heart: The Life and Death of a Square the architect Rania Sassine contemplates the history of Beirut’s most public of spaces. Before the war Martyr’s Square pumped and siphoned the public and civic life of the city; now it remains a vacuum sucking neither life nor death and attracting only the substances of emptiness. A substance so strange and alien to the center of such a lively city. Through Sassine’s eyes we witness the various mutations of the square from its origination as a Sahat Al Bourj, Tower Square, to its brief revival of its heartbeat in the joyful thumping of the Cedar Revolution. The author wonders “Are we now crushing civic life, shared living, to point out our differences, the very same livings that used to be our strength?” and looks for part of the answer to this question in the built environment surrounding and composing one of Lebanon’s most emblematic sites.

Stocktown Blues – Nachla Libre

Nachla Vargas Alaeb, known as the poet Nachla libre. Initiated and creative director for the network Revolution Poetry. 


Färgfabriken’s international program New Urban Topologies was created in 2010 to explore how urbanization is related to city development and culture. Methods of thinking that have contributed to the birth of these new projects, are Baltic Dimensions and Patchwork of Narratives. It is the contact with people and ideas that inspire and develop these projects. The project is supported by The Swedish Postcode Lottery (PostkodLotteriets Kulturstiftelse)


Daniel Urey

With support from

The project is supported by The Swedish Postcode Lottery.