Issam Kourbaj and Ruth Padel



To mark the eighth anniversary of the Syrian uprising which began 15th March 2011, an art installation by Syrian-born, UK-based artist Issam Kourbaj in collaboration with poet and classicist Ruth Padel,to honour the courage of the refugees and generosity of the Greek islanders of Lesbos, who pulled them from the waves and gave them blankets, shelter, charge for their mobile phones, and hope.

Kourbaj’s installation in response to the ongoing Syrian tragedy is in several parts: a live performance Life On Hold, a moving-image performance Strike, and two artwork and Siege and Dark Water, Burning World - 98 boats made from recycled bicycle mudguards, packed with upright burnt matches.

British poet Ruth Padel and Italian translator Paola Splendore will read, in English and Italian, Ruth’s poem for Dark Water Burning World, written in collaboration with Kourbaj, in response to her visit to Lesbos, September 2016. Kourbaj’s piece, with lines from Padel’s poem, was the final piece in the British Museum’s 2017 major exhibition Living with Gods.

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