Selkeh W Emneh | سالكة وآمنة
25 February 2017

Rola Khayyat, F16 Fighter Jets, 2016


Selkeh W Emneh | سالكة وآمنة
Rola Khayyat
Curated by Patrice Helmar
February 26 – April 09, 2017
Opening: February 26, 7-9pm
On view Saturdays 12-6pm and By Appointment

From Brooklyn to Beirut – Video Screening & Panel
Sunday, April 02, 2017
With: Regine Basha, Raymond Sasson, & Rola Khayyat


In those days of social turmoil, random destruction, and trigger-happy militiamen, one never knew what to expect to see on the streets. The quick-witted Lebanese turned the radio into a lifesaver. Beirut radio’s terminologies normally used to inform motorists which streets to avoid due to congestion, Selkeh w Emneh (safe and clear) began to be used by one creative radio announcer to warn motorists which streets were free of kidnapping and sniper fire. The two words quickly became the catchword for the civil war, so much so that a Beiruti couple named their newborn twin girls Selkeh and Emneh.
-“Brownies and Kalashnikovs” by Fadia Basrawi


What is the fate of artifacts and architecture left behind by a people in flux? A lamentation; a funeral dirge for a city wounded but still living. The Book of Lamentations found in the Old Testament is a series of poems that grieve the destruction of Jerusalem. These verses cry for the return of a city’s divinity and give voice to survivors who recount their dead loved ones. With each piece, a small song for her home, for the loved and lost, Rola Khayyat’s work echos this traditional lament.

Combining photograms that create and catalog a symbolic vernacular of conflict in Lebanon with a video that addresses the Lebanese Jewish Diaspora in New York, Khayyat engages the fragility, failures, and small victories of permanent politicized identity. Drawing on her childhood experience in the 1980’s during the height of the Lebanese Civil War, Khayyat proposes a version of normal from a position on the edge of stability.  It is a gesture that identifies and clarifies the cognitive dissonance and psychological distancing that persists while the world burns on our screens.

Secret Dungeon is proud to present an exhibition of photograms, video, and objects produced by Lebanese artist and curator Rola Khayyat. Currently based in Brooklyn, Khayyat earned an MFA from Columbia University’s School of Visual Arts with a focus on photography in 2016. Her work has been exhibited at the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Okk / raum 29, Catalyst Arts Belfast, and the 21st International Istanbul Art Fair.