Leila Alaoui’s Moroccans are somewhat surprising: like totems that rise up from nowhere, they stand before you and look you straight in the eye. The element of surprise is quite understandable as you are unlikely to see characters like these among the tourists at Jemaa el-Fna in Marrakech. They come from the Middle or High Atlas, from the Rif in the north or Khamlia in the south. To be sure of holding our attention, Alaoui has taken the people out of their usual setting to photograph them in front of a black curtain under powerful artificial lighting. To achieve a consistent set of results, her method is rigorously applied: she sets off on a road trip across the country, a country that she is more than familiar with, her own country where she started living when she was six years old. She takes a mobile photography studio with her, including batteries for the flash and a mini-printer so she can share prints. She often stays with local inhabitants and usually she sets up her gear at the market so she can shoot her Moroccans in their usual, day-to-day attire. “I get them to pose but I don’t direct them,” explains Alaoui, who started the series “to show the ethnic and cultural diversity of Morocco, far from the clichés and costumes designed to please the tourists”.
BIENNALE OF CONTEMPORARY ARAB WORLD PHOTOGRAPHY
From November 11th, 2015 to January 17th, 2016
Maison Européenne de la Photographie
5/7 rue de Fourcy
Wednesday – Sunday 11am – 7.45pm
Picto Lab is partner of event www.picto.fr