Imploded, burned, turned to ash
Drawing and Sound Performance
Duration: 36 min 08 sec
By Issam Kourbaj
This performance by the Syrian-born and Cambridge-based artist Issam Kourbaj was created to mark one decade of the Syrian uprising. It was performed and livestreamed on 15 March 2021 – the tenth anniversary of the first day of unrest. Filmed during the second COVID-19 lockdown at The Howard Theatre at Downing College, Cambridge, it was watched live across the world. In collaboration with the composer Richard Causton and the soprano Jessica Summers, as well as Kettle’s Yard, The Heong Gallery and The Fitzwilliam Museum, the original performance also coincided with the artist’s display of 366 eye idols created from Aleppo soap (Don’t Wash Your Hands: Neither Light Agrees To Enter The Eyes Nor Air The Lungs, 2020) at the Fitzwilliam Museum (2 December 2020–5th September 2021).
In March 2021, Kourbaj said:
“To mark the tenth anniversary of the Syrian uprising, which was sparked by teenage graffiti in March 2011, this drawing performance will pay homage to those young people who dared to speak their mind, the masses who protested publicly, as well as the many Syrian eyes that were, in the last ten years, burnt and brutally closed forever.”
This performance is currently being screened in multiple locations worldwide, including cultural institutions and churches across the UK, Europe, Middle East and USA, throughout Refugee Week (20–26 June 2022). The ash produced during the original performance will also be installed in a glass vessel next to the screen at selected locations, including St James’s Piccadilly, London, and Great St Mary’s Church, Cambridge. The performance will also be available to watch virtually on associated websites that will be accessible to anyone unable to make it to one of the physical locations.
The idea of screening it in multiple locations and on the internet reflects the diaspora of many Syrians forced to leave their destroyed homes and erased cities, who are now scattered across the world, while the glass vessel of ash casts light on war’s terrible continuity (even when it is no longer mentioned in the media) and the destruction of all cities and livelihoods, which we see repeated time and again (as is now tragically happening in the Ukraine) and throughout human history.
SCREENING LOCATIONS WORLDWIDE:
Aldeburgh, Amsterdam, Atlanta, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Hastings, Leiden, London, Newcastle, Peterborough, Philadelphia.
Du 20 au 26 juin à l’occasion de la semaine des réfugiées, la Reine Blanche s’associe à l’artiste syrien Issam Kourbaj, visionnez son œuvre « Imploded, burned, turned to ash ».