My recent work deals with the current destruction of my homeland, Syria. Large numbers of my fellow Syrians have been forced to set out on a modern-day exodus of biblical proportions, often abandoning their homes with nothing but the clothes they are wearing. They carry the heavy burden of impossible traumas that will haunt them and their children for generations to come. Many of the refugees do not make it alive to the shores of safety and have been buried in various parts of the world with the word “unknown” written on their gravestones. Lost deals with the fate of so many Syrians who attempted to seek refuge in Lesbos, Greece. This piece is made from children’s clothing and is cut to form one maximum flat surface, thereby bringing back the clothing item to its origin as cloth. Finally, it is dipped in plaster. This clothing item holds the ghost of its past and acts as evidence of and a gravestone for its recent carrier–the person who never managed to reach the shores of Lesbos and instead drowned in its dark waters.
The cloth also holds script in both Arabic and Greek stating:
Issam Kourbaj is a Syrian-born Fine Artist and Lector in Art at Cambridge University.