Excavating The Present
Kettles Yard, Cambridge - March 2013
Syrian-born artist Issam Kourbaj is exhibiting exclusive recent works in order to raise money for Syrian mothers and their families. For the fortnight of 22 March to 7 April, Christ’s College Cambridge artist-in-residence Issam Kourbaj will be exhibiting his new art project, Excavating the Present in a former furnishing emporium in King Street, Cambridge. Here, in a space blessed with abundant northern light, he will present his haunting installation, which amalgamates X-ray images of the human body and of familiar animals with aerial photo graphs of British landscapes.
In it, images of animal and human bones hang beside images of the land observed from the sky. Fixed to a clothes-line, carefully weathered with acids, the images are eerie yet domestic, a reminder that the biggest mystery of all, death, surrounds us all the time. But this theme goes further and wider than memento mori. He has constructed, for our contemplation, outer and inner landscapes, a chronicle of the smallness and fragility of our bodies and the vastness of the land and sky that holds us and bears silent witness to us. Can the present be created from broken pieces of the
past? Can we find all the broken pieces so as, with them, to build something new? In view of the tragic events in Syria, the exhibition dwells on the fragility of life and offers hope that a bigger and better world may one day come to be.