Ibrahim El-Salahi Untitled from Prison Notebook 1976

  • Not on view

Tunnels, just wide enough for the body to squeeze into, twisted and tight,

Routes carved of volcanic rocks.

I crawl through them, prowling blindly.

I hear the footsteps of guards, blocking the only exit.

No guiding light, no exits, no way out,

I try to go back but the guards are up at the gate.

I prowl blindly

Through twisted tunnels and routes.

I am lost.

My screams reach no one,

My mouth shut.

My screams will reach no one so long as my mouth is shut.

Ibrahim El-Salahi: Here I was remembering a nightmare where I was trying to go through some underground tunnels. I moved about, and whenever I found an outlet, the guards would close it. So I had to go backward through a very, very narrow hole. It made me feel claustrophobic, going back into these twisted lanes underground.

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 5/8" (28.3 × 16.8 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
© 2024 Ibrahim El-Salahi / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS, London
Associated work
Prison Notebook
Drawings and Prints

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research/circulating-film.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].