Notes from Aleppo

In 2012, photographer Issa Touma was forced to leave his home in Aleppo. Reluctant to leave behind his country, friends and family, he traveled back and forth several times until the East Aleppo was taken back by the regime (SAA) in December 2016.

Notes from Aleppo follows Issa Touma rediscovering Aleppo after his arrival. In a number of short stories, Issa shows the struggles of Aleppo’s citizens in their attempt to restore normality in their day-to-day life and recover from the destruction of the war. Given the political situation no funds for reconstruction are available from foreign countries and the resources of the regime are extremely limited after seven years of conflict. The rebuilding of the city largely comes down to the citizens themselves.

Before the war it was estimated that 22.5 million people lived in Syria of which 2.1 in Aleppo, the largest city. Since 2011 over 5.6 million people have become refugees and another 6.6 million are internally displaced. And yet, people started returning to Aleppo, as of early 2017. At the beginning of 2018 the number of returnees in Aleppo was 444,500.

Notes from Aleppo is a follow-up to the successful movies 9 Days – From My Window in Aleppo (2015) and Greetings from Aleppo (2016).


Issa Touma is a photographer and curator based in Aleppo (Syria). His photographic work can be found in international collections, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

Finding himself isolated from the international art community in his own country, Touma established the Black and White Gallery, the first photography gallery in the Middle East, in 1992. After its closure in 1996, Touma founded Le Pont, an independent art organisation and gallery that promotes freedom of expression and stimulates the local art scene through international events.

In 1997, he started the International Photography Festival Aleppo, which despite the horrors and uncertainties of the conflict, continues to take place every year. In 2012, shortly after the war broke out, he initiated Art Camping. This event in the form of workshops counters violence with artistic interventions. Its aim is to bring young people from various religious and ethnic backgrounds together, encouraging them to express themselves through culture.