Saturday, 24 May 2014

Leila Alaoui | Les Marocains

Photo © Leila Alaoui-All Rights Reserved

I recall featuring the portraits of Moroccans by Leila Alaoui in a 2011 post, and was very glad to see them again featured in Slate's Behold (its photo blog) with the title of Capturing The Stunning Faces of Morocco.

Morocco is, in my estimation, one of the most difficult countries in which to photograph people. Ms. Allaoui agrees with that, saying that Moroccans are especially apprehensive about being photographed due to their belief in witchcraft, the evil eye and as an Islamic country, espouse a belief that image-making is a direct contravention of Islamic tradition.

However, she persevered and went on about 20 road trips across the country in the last few years, traveling through the Atlas Mountains, the Rif Mountains, the Sahara, and a variety of coastal and inland regions of Morocco including Essaouira, Tangier, and Marrakech. She would set up a portable studio in public places, markets, and other private gatherings after spending a few days getting to know the locals. Eventually, some people would agree to pose and be photographed by her.

Leila Alaoui is a French-Moroccan multimedia artist working on cultural diversity, identity and migration using video installations, studio and documentary photography. After studying film and photography in New York, she moved back to Morocco in 2008. Her work has been exhibited internationally since 2009 and has been published in newspapers and magazines, including in The New York Times. She now lives and works between Marrakech and Beirut.