Issam Kourbaj (born Suweida, Syria, 1963). Dark Water, Burning World (detail), 2017. Repurposed discarded steel bicycle mudguards, extinguished matches, and clear resin, 20 boats, each: 2.5x15x5 cm. Courtesy of the artist.
My Dark Water, Burning World is inspired by ancient Syrian sea vessels and deals with the way presentday Syrians escape while they carry visible and invisible scars scorched into them by separation from their homeland. They have not only lost their land, their possessions, their homes, and their people, but also, for many, their pride and identity. They have lost the tangible and the intangible, their pasts, presents, and most notably their futures.
The sea is neither abundant nor beautifully mysterious for many Syrian refugees. It has turned into a terrifying passage through which their fates are being decided: to live or die. —I.K.
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