The last two decades have marked the publication of a number of prison memoirs and testimonials written by former leftist political prisoners in Sudan. Unlike reports issued by international human rights organizations, these publications foreground a much more personal and autobiographical element to the legacy of political incarceration in Sudan. Yet, most of these memoirs tend to be in written form, and rarely have they been combined with visual representation or a stand-alone visual artistic work. The essay focuses on one such conspicuous exception, by zeroing in on a series of pen-and-ink drawings by Ibrahim El Salahi, the pioneer Sudanese modernist painter who was imprisoned in the mid-1970s during the regime of military dictator Gaafar Nimeiri (1969–85). The essay provides a critical reading of these drawings in light of El Salahi's own unpublished memoir detailing the day-to-day routine in the infamous Kober (Cooper) Prison in Khartoum, Sudan. It also provides a stylistic and aesthetic analysis of the same drawings in the context of El Salahi's oeuvre and its evolution.
Salah M. Hassan; Ibrahim El Salahi's “Prison Notebook”: A Visual Memoir. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 January 2010; 109 (1): 197–219. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-2009-031
Download citation file: