Kourbaj created his installation Scaling the Dark: seeds, sands, moons especially for the monumental Lichthal in the museum.
4381 Boats in the Lichthal
Kourbaj created his installation Scaling the Dark: seeds, sands, moons especially for the monumental Lichthal in the museum. The installation of 4381 miniature boats extends diagonally across the hall and counts the number of days, weeks and months since the beginning of the crisis in Syria. Each boat for the number of days contains a seed, which symbolizes renewal and growth. With this, the artist shows that even in the darkest of times, growth and hope are still possible.
The BBC podcast “A History of the World in 100 Objects” recently named Kourbaj’s installation of miniature boats the 101st object for its unique ability to encapsulate the past decade.
Migration, growth and hope
Most of the museum objects on display come from Syria and deal with themes related to the conflict that is taking place there. Some of them are very personal to Kourbaj’s own story. Yet the exhibition reaches beyond personal or political boundaries to more universal themes such as migration, growth and hope. A toy car made of recycled materials from the Libyan desert stands in for all of our childhoods and a door from Aleppo symbolizes a universal longing for home.
Seeds and Plants
Because of his interest in growth, dispersion, and movement, you will encounter seeds and plants throughout the intervention. For example, the rare 16th-century Rauwolf Herbarium, on loan from Naturalis in Leiden, is full of various medicinal and useful plants from Syria and is on display for the first time in Amsterdam. On the terrace of the café De Tropen, we worked together with the Royal Tropical Institute to grow edible plants from Syria, such as chick peas and wheat. The seeds were donated by ICARDA, and we hope to bake bread from the harvest.
What can a simple drawing on a bowl from Aleppo tell us about our human journey in a time when we are forced to live apart? This drawing about the life of a plant was the spark that inspired the entire intervention and gave Kourbaj the idea to combine his own artworks with objects from the museum.