Leila Alaoui used photography and video art to express social realities through a visual language situated somewhere between documentary and visual art. The subject of this project is Les Marocains, printed to be larger than life characters. Inspired by Robert Frank’s Americans, the project saw the artist travelling through Morocco with a mobile studio, weaving together a multifaceted portrait of a country through its inhabitants. Women and men, Arabs and Berbers, adults and children can be found side by side in a mosaic of cultures, traditions and aesthetics. More than a simple documentary, this series was also a way to bring together the distance implied in the whole apparatus of camera with a form of intimacy that was forged through the encounters she made with the people on her journey and that drew on her Moroccan roots.
The French-Moroccan artist, photographer and video artist Leila Alaoui was born in 1982 and studied photography at the City University of New York. Her work explores the building of identity, cultural diversity and migration in the Mediterranean area. She used photography and video to express various social realities through a visual language lying on the boundary between the documentary and the plastic arts. Since 2009, her works have been shown in various countries, the Institut du Monde Arabe , the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, the Malmö Konsthall in Sweden, the national palace of the citadel of Cascais in Portugal, and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Montreal, Canada. Alaoui’s humanitarian commitment also included various photographic missions for prominent NGOs, such as the Danish Refugee Council, Search for Common Ground and HCR. In January 2016, while working on an Amnesty International commission about women’s rights in Burkina Faso, Leila Alaoui was seriously wounded in the terrorist attacks in Ouagadougou. She did not recover, and died on 18 January 2016. The Fondation Leila Alaoui was set up to preserve her work, defend her values and inspire and support artists working to promote human dignity.