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.
The Moroccans is a photographic series of contemporary live size portraits, shot in a mobile photo studio across Morocco.
Inspired by Robert Frank’s The Americans and Richard Avedon’s In The American West, I embarked on a road trip across the country to photograph men and women of all ages, from diverse ethnic and tribal groups, Arabs and Berbers, in various regions of Morocco. I encountered many difficulties shooting portraits in a land where people have superstitious apprehensions towards the camera, and often see photography as a tool that steals the soul of people. Nonetheless, I was able to convince many to participate in the adventure, while setting up my portable studio in public places, souks (markets) and other private gatherings.
The Moroccans is an ongoing project. Its images are an attempt to bear witness to the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of Morocco, an archival work on the aesthetics of disappearing traditions through contemporary digital photography.