Long before March 2011, Syria was known as the “kingdom of silence”. All forms of artistic and public expression were controlled by the regime, only those who mastered the regime’s censorship rule-book managed to sneak in their subtle message through the many red lines. From the outset of the uprising against tyranny in 2011, public expression and art became a daily practice. Self-expression has been, in essence, the motor of the uprising; the creative spirit of the Syrian people was unleashed by the wave of protests around the country popularizing art and culture to become a defining face of the protest movement. But where are we today? With the population facing endless repression and the world seeming increasingly indifferent, is art still a powerful tool for Syrians?

Spanish-Syrian professor and activist Leila Nachawati Rego reflects on culture and communication in times of repression, revolution and war, with a special focus on Aleppo, “the Syrian Gernika”.