Culture Under Attack was a season of three free exhibitions, live music, performances and talks at IWM London that explored how war threatens not just people’s lives, but also the things that help define us.

Jake Shuker: “I am just metal AF, I had always been like this. Being a rebel is just being the human you always wanted to be. I mean, being a rebel is to do, doing, doing what you wanted to do not people want to do. Some people who just think about mental as just noise or something, we would get accused of being satans over time, it's really frustrating.”

[Music]

Aeham Ahmad: “I don't need the stage of the government, I don't need the stage of the [inaudible], I don't need the stage of the revolution people to give me stage to tell me, yeah, please sing for us or do some things. I do it for children with my piano, without any support from nobody. I need only my piano in the car. It's pushed me between me and my friend. I need only my friend. I need the community to agree for what we do. And this is what it's really creative time because I have the whole community behind me. All young people, they say, see, you are our radio.

[Instrumental] 

Jake Shuker: “Metal had always been like a shelter to me like throughout all these years, but the thing is you have metal, you have your dreams but suddenly there is a war in your country, and you have no idea what to do. This is just keep listening to music.”

Aeham Ahmad: “I will play Forget my name. This is a song from Zacharia, he write it for his wife. She is dying in the checkpoint. Forget my name. Forget my remember. Forget my dream. Yeah, it's not easy and to play Forget my name again and again, I wish to not to play piano again. It's painful for my finger, for my soul and for my everything. Every time when I play Forget my name, I remember every time I forget my name, I remember this baby. Yeah, it's certainly not easy. I think when I found the piano and I can express myself free, speak free, this is identity for me. This is my freedom, my freedom to speak free, to play music and to react free.”

What should a musician do when their country is engulfed in conflict?

Syrian metal singer Jake Shuker and pianist Aeham Ahmad brought the sounds and stories of musical rebellion to Rebel Sounds Live: Syria at IWM London, the first of a series of events highlighting the power of music as resistance. 

They performed live in the atrium at IWM London then joined journalist and flimmaker Ben Zand for a discussion about how conflict had affected them as both people and performers.

Watch some of the highlights of the event. 

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