Ibrahim El-Salahi Untitled from Prison Notebook 1976

  • Not on view

To our right languish those who are on death row,

Awaiting offcial approval of execution by hanging.

During the day, up to midday, they are engulfed in dead silence.

They go on chattering, singing, and reciting folk poetry all night long.

To our left, there were two desolate cells,

Where those sentenced to death were prepared for execution.

The gallows,

A rope hanging from the ceiling and a hollow cavity of emptiness:

“I am your brother, Fatima,

I’m the custodian of the clan’s girls.”

“I’m the custodian of the clan’s girls.”

“I’m the custodian of the clan’s girls.”

At dawn, we hear the voice, we hear the roaring.

At the stroke of four!

Oh my God, how clearly resonant that voice was.

It was as clear as the scream of a newborn baby, clear like destiny.

How many times we heard that voice from behind the thick walls.

It was said that the hanged neck stretches.

It stretches like that of a camel, stretches toward the valley of eternal freedom.

Ibrahim El-Salahi: They would take a person in the afternoon and tie him with a gulsheen [put- tee], soaked in salt water. At dawn, at four o’clock in the morning, you heard the trapdoor banging when the body, being heavy, dropped. But before that, you heard those who were about to be executed shouting “I am your brother, Fatima,” to show that they were not afraid.

Publication excerpt from Ibrahim El-Salahi. Prison Notebook, 1976. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2018.
Ink on paper from a notebook with thirty-eight ink on paper drawings
11 1/8 × 6 3/4" (28.3 × 17.1 cm)
Acquired through the generosity of Marlene Hess and James D. Zirin, Catie and Donald Marron, Alice and Tom Tisch (in honor of Christophe Cherix), Marnie Pillsbury and Committee on Drawings and Prints Fund
Object number
© 2021 Ibrahim El-Salahi / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS, London
Associated work
Prison Notebook
Drawings and Prints

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