Another Day Lost (December 2015-January 2016)


About the installation

In 2011, as Arab Spring protests swept across other parts of the Middle East, protests against the Syrian regime were met with military crackdowns, which in turn spurred rebellion, and eventually led to civil war. Since that time, more than 10 million Syrians—half the country’s pre-war population—have been uprooted from their homes. Of those, more than 4 million have left their homeland altogether.

Almost two million have fled to Turkey. More than one million are living in abandoned buildings, sheds, spare rooms, garages, and tent settlements in Lebanon. More than 600,000 have fled to Jordan, where approximately 100,000 live in camps.

It was aerial imagery of these camps in the Jordanian desert, particularly Zaatari, that first inspired Syrian-born, UK-based artist Issam Kourbaj, to create Another Day Lost.

Kourbaj constructed this 'camp' out of thousands of 'tents' made from waste materials, such as medicine packaging and discarded books, which are marked with Kourbaj’s 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 also the loss of thousands of lives. There are 1,735 matches at the start of the installation, arranged in tally marks to count the days since the beginning of the Syrian uprising (March 15, 2011), and one match will be added to the artwork for each day while the conflict continues.

The original installation, consisting of five sites, opened in London in July 2015, and was placed in a pattern across the city that traced the placement of refugee camps outside Syria’s border. In September, Another Day Lost was shown on boat on the river in London. Trinity’s installation is housed in a blue tent in the churchyard, next to a white tent containing a new artwork entitled Another Day. The community is invited to participate in making a third, ongoing artwork, loosely based on Another Day Lost, in Trinity’s Parish Center at 2 Rector St.


About the Artist

Issam Kourbaj was born in Syria and trained at the Institute of Fine Art in Damascus, the Repin Institute of Fine Arts in Leningrad, and the Wimbledon School of Art. Since 1990, he has lived and worked in Cambridge, UK, as a Bye-Fellow (2007-2011) and artist-in-residence at Christ’s College, where he is also a lector in art.

Since the 2011 uprising, Kourbaj has been raising awareness and money for projects and aid in Syria. In 2013, he raised funds for the Syria Crisis Appeals of Oxfam and Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) through his exhibition, Excavating the Present, in Cambridge, and proceeds from Scattered, Gathered, an exhibition in Kuwait, went to Al Madad Foundation’s education and literacy programs on the ground in Aleppo. In 2014, Kourbaj held a solo exhibition called Unearthed, proceeds from which were donated to Médecins Sans Frontières, and a work inspired by the Syrian uprising called The dark side of the “unknown” ray was shown as part of a group show at Dilston Grove in London in 2015. The funds raised from Another Day Lost will be split between Médecins Sans Frontières and the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

For more information about Issam Kourbaj, visit

Learn more about the artist's inspiration for this installation at an artist talk, Sunday, December 13, at 1pm, at St. Paul's Chapel.

Learn more about Another Day Lost and Issam Kourbaj’s work at a conversation between the artist and project curator, Louisa Macmillan, Thursday, December 17, at 7pm, at Trinity Church.


Get Involved

Around the perimeter of the art installation, signs with the hashtags #artasadvocacy and #refugeeswelcome encourage visitors from all nations to participate in the global social media campaign urging all governments to welcome refugees. U.S. residents will be able to generate and electronically send a letter of support to their elected representatives encouraging them to support increasing the number of Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S. In addition, visitors to the Parish Center will be able to use the adjacent computers to send electronic messages to their elected representatives.