Taking the title of a Fairouz song, Another Day Lost is a series of installations by Syrian-born, UK-based artist Issam Kourbaj, inspired by the refugee crisis and made out of discarded books, sheet music, aerial photography, maps, medicine packaging and matches.
The overall appearance is that of a vast refugee ‘camp’, constructed from thousands of tiny paper and cardboard ‘tents’, many of which are marked with Kourbaj’s distinctive black lines (based on Arabic calligraphy and traditional mourning ribbons), and encircled with a ‘fence’ of matches.
The matches are burned as time passes, and arranged in tally marks to count the days: one burnt match for every day since the beginning of the Syrian uprising (15th March, 2011). Meanwhile, the new matches represent the uncertain future.
By repurposing discarded, commonplace materials, Kourbaj laments not only the loss of time, normality and everyday life for Syrians everywhere, but also the poor quality of life experienced by his compatriots in their displacement.
This will be the 9th edition of Another Day Lost, installed here to mark the fifth anniversary of the Syrian uprising (15th March, 2016). There will be a match burning ceremony every day at noon to add to the artwork and to commemorate the countless Syrian lives lost over the last five years.
Issam Kourbaj was born in Syria, and studied in Damascus, St. Petersburg and London. He is based in Cambridge, UK, where he is a Lector in art. Since 2011, he has been making works inspired by and based upon the worsening crisis in his home country.
“transform(art)ive”: Art for Social Change is a series of 1 to 7 days of art exhibitions or provoked expression in conjunction with talks panel & discussions on issues of social justice, engaging and inspiring the community into critical thinking and empathetic understanding of the world around us. Issam Kourbaj’s project “Another Day Lost…”, curated by Louisa Macmillan and brought to 12G by Amina Ahmed is the first in this new series of exhibitions.
Another Day Lost is a series of installations by Syrian-born, UK-based artist Issam Kourbaj, inspired by aerial images of refugee camps and is made out of waste materials. Each installation is constructed from discarded books, medicine packaging and burnt matches. As one of the visitors in London commented: “Waste materials portraying wasted lives.” The overall appearance is that of a refugee ‘camp’, made out of thousands of tiny paper and cardboard ‘tents’, some of which are marked with Kourbaj’s distinctive black lines (based on Arabic calligraphy and traditional mourning ribbons), and encircled with a ‘fence’ of burnt matches.
The used, redundant matches reference not only the irreversible changes in everyday Syrian life but also the loss of thousands of lives. The matches are arranged in tally marks, which enumerate the number of days that have passed since the beginning of the Syrian uprising (15th March, 2011), and one match will be added to the artwork for each day while the conflict continues. On 24th February, there will be 1,808 matches.
By repurposing discarded materials and extinguished matches, Kourbaj laments not only the loss of time, normality and everyday life for Syrians everywhere, but also the poor quality of life experienced by his compatriots in their displacement. The installations were initially scattered around central London, in disused spaces and even a UNHCR tent, in a pattern loosely related to the diaspora of refugee camps that have arisen in the countries bordering Syria over the last five years. As the refugee crisis worsened on an international scale, Another Day Lost was also shown aboard a boat on the River Thames and exhibited for the first time in the USA in two tents in the churchyard of Trinity Wall Street, over Christmas 2015 and New Year 2016.
Kourbaj says: “Another Day Lost is an archive of loss and remembrance, not of the distant past, but of the very painful present; a present of lasting scars, abandoned humans and cities turned to dust. More than 1800 days have passed since the Syrian uprising, and the count goes on. Tragically millions of Syrians are still uprooted, displaced and orphaned and many are becoming citizens of a tent.”
Another Day Lost (2015) Paper, cardboard and burnt matches
Curated by Louisa Macmillan
Another Day Lost is a series of installations by Syrian-born, UK-based artist, Issam Kourbaj, inspired by the ongoing Syrian Refugee Crisis.
In the white tent, Another Day (2015), shown here for the first time, is made up of approximately 1,750 burnt matches and one solitary ‘tent’ to highlight the amount of time lost by every individual person, family, city or even Syria itself, since the war began on 15th March, 2011. Kourbaj has spiraled the matches around the lone tent, as numerous as if they were countless, suggesting that the weight of time lost is strangling anyone who might live inside.
In the blue tent, Another Day Lost, inspired by aerial imagery of refugee camps in the Jordan, is shown here for the seventh time. Kourbaj created this ‘camp’ of thousands of ‘tents’ out of waste materials, such as medicine packaging and discarded books, which are marked with his distinctive black lines (based on Arabic calligraphy and traditional mourning ribbons). The ‘camp’ is surrounded by a ‘fence’ of burnt matches, which reference the irreversible changes in everyday Syrian life and the loss of thousands of lives.
Thirdly, in the Parish Center (2 Rector Street), Kourbaj and volunteers have installed a camp inspired by Another Day Lost that is big enough to step into. There is a horizon line or ‘fence’ of matches (paired with the artist’s tents in the entrance), which continues throughout the rest of the center. Members of the community are invited to step into this camp and, using Kourbaj’s process, to participate in making their own tents for the internal walls of the Parish Center. In addition, visitors will be able to use the adjacent computers to send electronic messages to their elected representatives.
Off The Wall is a trans-platform exhibition floating on the Thames, with works by artists from across London. The show is staged aboard the HQS Wellington, a 1933 sloop which has been commanded across the Atlantic and Pacific, moored on the Thames at Victoria Embankment, opposite Temple Tube station. It also features an installation Another Day Lost by UK-based, Syrian artist Issam Kourbaj.
London once established its connections with the globe from the gateway of its river. Off The Wall has chosen to bring its participating artists, who originate from three continents over both hemispheres, all back to the river. The artists in Off The Wall are not bound by a single theme or thread, but freely draw on their individual diverse visions and interpretations. They address history as a spatial challenge and as a physical constraint.
The artist invited come from London colleges including Royal College of Art, Slade School of Fine Art, Camberwell College of Arts, Goldsmiths and Chelsea College of Art. As well as presenting paintings, sculpture, photography, drawing, installations and video, the exhibition will be complimented by a programme of live works.
Sze Wong, Julia Varela, Issam Kourbaj, Matthias Tharang, Ruozhe Xue, Helena Hartmann, Yuki Kobayashi, Nils Alix Tabeling, Zehra Arslan, Cibelle Cavalli Bastos, Miguel Soto, Riikka Hyvönen, Yu Ting ong, Jiaxin Yuan, Sunghun Ryu, Francis Olvez Wilshaw, Hamish Pearch, Girolamo Marri,Kennis Chen, Anna Cheung, Min Kim, Delfina Fantini Van Ditmar, Luli Perez, Justin Fitzpatrick, Macarena Rojas Osterling, Li Li Ren, Jamie Fitzpatrick
The entire exhibition invites donations which will go entirely to Syrian projects run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF UK) and the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
PREVIEW_ Friday 18th September 2015, 6-11pm
RSVP Essential to firstname.lastname@example.org
PERFORMANCES – SCREENINGS will be happening throughout the Opening evening.
Another Day Lost is a series of installations across five sites, inspired by and based on the Syrian refugee crisis, by Syrian-born, UK-based artist, Issam Kourbaj.
These installations resemble ‘camps’ constructed out of waste materials, such as medicine packaging and discarded books. The ‘tents’ are marked with Kourbaj’s distinctive black lines, based on Arabic calligraphy and traditional mourning ribbons, and encircled with a ‘fence’ of used matches. On the first day of the festival, there will be 1,579 matches in every ‘fence’, and another match will be added for every day of the exhibition, resulting in a total of 1593 matches by the end of two weeks on display. Each match represents a day lost since the beginning of the Syrian uprising.
The sites are scattered around London, mapping out and loosely reflecting the geographic pattern of refugee presence outside the borders of Syria. The installations at Goethe-Institut London and St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, roughly relate to the locations of camps along Syria’s southern border; Central Books in East London correlates to the cities of northern Iraq; 10 Golborne Road represents Lebanon; and Heath Street Church, Hampstead, approximates the location of camps in Turkey.