Leila Alaoui / Crossings

Video Installation / 6 min / 2013

Videostill aus dem Film „Crossings“, 2013, Copyright: Leila Alaoui

Videostill aus dem Film „Crossings“, 2013, Copyright: Leila Alaoui

Crossings explores the experience of sub-Saharan migrants who embark on the perilous journey to reach the elusive shores of Europe. The three-screen video installation focuses on the collective trauma provoked by the embodied experience of crossing boundaries and becoming a fragile community in a new habitat. While exploring the experiential textures of psychological and physical transition, the installation also gestures towards the concept of Europe as a problematic utopia in the African imagination.

"Following weeks of research as a participant observer among migrant communities in Morocco, I nurtured the idea of an immersive audiovisual experience through which to share personal stories of migration and re-enact the disturbing sensations of the journey. Coming from a documentary photography background I was interested in the capacity of contemporary video art to explore the boundaries of traditional storytelling while avoiding clichés of victimization."

Filmed from the imaginary viewpoint of the migrants, Crossings incorporates fragments of reality among reconstructed images and sound effects derived from true narratives. The result is a three-screen video installation combining harrowing voiceovers, static portraits of migrants and aesthetic video landscapes.

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Welche Eindrücke werden während der Überfahrt gesammelt? Was sehen Geflüchtete aus dem subsaharischen Afrika, die sich in kleinen Booten auf die gefährliche Reise zu den schwer erreichbaren Mittelmeerküsten Europas begeben? In der Videoinstallation Crossings geht Leila Alaoui dem kollektiven Trauma auf die Spur. Von einem imaginierten Standpunkt der Fliehenden aus gefilmt, schafft es die Videoinstallation sinnlich erfahrbar zu machen, was kaum vorstellbar scheint. Sie lässt ihre Betrachter*innen unmittelbar eintauchen in die Situation des Gefangen- und Dazwischenseins auf den ungewissen Weiten des Mittelmeers. In rekonstruierten Landschaften verstreut liegen die Geschichten der Reisenden und vermitteln zwischen alten und neuen Identitäten. Die Arbeit basiert auf einer mehrwöchigen Forschung der Künstlerin in Marokko, in der sie viele persönliche Interviews führte.

Während der Arbeit an einem Fotoprojekt über Frauenrechte in Burkina Faso fiel Leila Alaoui einem terroristischen Anschlag in Ouagadougou zum Opfer. Sie erlag am 18. Januar 2016 ihren schweren Verletzungen. Die Leila Alaoui Foundation hat es sich zur Aufgabe gemacht, ihre Arbeit und die von ihr vertretenen Werte zu bewahren.

 

Vita / Bio / Life

Copyright Augustine le Galle

Copyright Augustine le Galle

Leila ALAOUI is a French-Moroccan photographer and video artist whose experiences across different cultural and geographic environments inform her critical and creative practice. Born in Paris in 1982, she studied photography at the City University of New York before spending time between Morocco and Lebanon. Her work explores the construction of identity and cultural diversity, often through the prism of the migration stories that intersect the contemporary Mediterranean. Her images express social realities using a visual language that combines the narrative depth of documentary storytelling and the aesthetic sensibilities of fine art.

Her work has been exhibited internationally in galleries and fairs since 2009, including at the Institut du Monde Arabe and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, Muntref in Buenos Aires, Brandts in Odense, Art Dubai, and the Dakar and Marrakech Biennales. Her photographs have been published in newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, Vogue and The Guardian. Leila’s humanitarian engagement involves photographic assignments with respected NGOs including Search for Common Ground, the Danish Refugee Council and UNHCR.

In January 2016, during a photographic assignment on women’s rights in Burkina Faso commissioned by Amnesty International, Leila fell victim to the terrorist attacks of Ouagadougou. She succumbed to her wounds on January 18th, 2016.

The Leila Alaoui Foundation has been set-up to preserve her work, defend her values and continue inspiring artistic engagement for human dignity.

 

Installation view / Installationsansicht

Soulaimane Belhassan-Alaoui next to Leila Alaoui's work at GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde / 2016 / Copyright Sandra Neuhaus

Soulaimane Belhassan-Alaoui next to Leila Alaoui's work at GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde / 2016 / Copyright Sandra Neuhaus