Inspired by the Japanese practice of kintsugi, flacking involves transforming defects in the urban environment into beautiful mosaics.
Where others see a pothole, a manhole, or a cracked wall, French artist Ememem sees an opportunity to make something beautiful. Using a technique called "flacking," Ememem — known throughout his home city of Lyon as "the pavement surgeon" — repairs such defects in the urban environment. Inspired by the Japanese practice of kintsugi, flacking involves cutting tiny pieces of materials like ceramics, wood, and bitumen and arranging the pieces to fit a broken chunk of the sidewalk or missing bits of walls while creating intricate and colorful designs. The name of the art form, which was coined by Ememem themself, is a play on the French word flaque, meaning puddle or patch.
It is a hard and complex form of art that, contrary to first impressions, requires countless hours and an incredible reserve of patience. "But I'm just a sidewalk poet, a son of bitumen," Ememem told The Guardian. "My work is the story of the city, where cobblestones have been displaced; a truck from the vegetable market tore off a piece of asphalt. Each becomes a flack." Since starting in 2016, the artist has reportedly left his mark in Genoa, Turin, and Florence in addition to Lyon.
Here are some of Ememem's breathtaking creations: