Potholes can be irritating for everyone. And one ingenious European artist has come up with a novel way of solving the problem—by filling them up with mosaic tiles. There are some 350 in the southern French city of Lyon alone and more across Europe.
Like the British street artist Banksy across The Channel, Emenem is anonymous and very little is known about him. He doesn’t want to be photographed and he doesn’t give interviews. He has an agent through whom people can get in touch and a press kit on a website but other than that, he says “it’s important for me to remain a little mysterious,” as quoted in The Observer. “And it’s also because I’m not very talented when it comes to social interactions.”
Ememem is a self-described “pavement surgeon” and “pothole knight.” He calls his art, flackings, which refers to the French word, flaque, which means puddle.
Not much is known about this man who focuses on the “art of healing the street” except that his father was a tiler.
His agent who has known him 15 years, Guillaume Abou, does not fill in much more detail, except to confirm that he speaks French with a foreign-accent and is possibly of Italian descent—something confirmed by the fact that his website is in French, English and Italian.
Since he emerged from the underground arts scene in Lyon in 2016, he has created over 400 ‘plasters’ over Europe—in Scotland, Norway, Germany, Italy and Spain.
His artwork is not strictly legal in the sense that he never asks for permission and he works at night so he won’t be disturbed, sometimes in disguise. His agent told The Observer of how Emenem once erected a working space by wrapping red tape around cones to fill in a hole in Guadaloupe, to give the impression that he was working officially.
Emenem has 150,000 followers on Instagram, who delight in his frequent before and after photos of unwanted holes in the ground. In that sense he is taking on the mantle of a U.S. artist, Jim Bachor, who has been filling in potholes on the streets of Chicago since 2013.