In a historic phone call, the late President Hafez El Assad questions Syrian astronaut Mohammad Fares, who is flying above the Earth, about his impressions as he looks down on the Syrian lands. Twenty-five years later, at the beginning of the upheavals in Syria in 2011, the authorities, fearing vandalism, dismantled the statues of Assad in the protesting towns, sacrificing the “Symbol” in order to safeguard the “Image.” Pipe Dreams reflects on how authoritarian regimes protect representations of their power.

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