Photographer Leila Alaoui's No Pasara


Written by Dont Panic
19 Tuesday 19th January 2016

Photographer Leila Alaoui's work is a fascinating combination of the personal and political, exploring the individuals at the heart of and engulfed in current affairs.

For instance, in November 2013 Alaoui toured Lebanon to meet Syrian families displaced by the country's civil war and took their portraits; closer to home, French-Moroccan Alaoui created L'île du Diable, a film that meets the former workers of a closed down factory on the outskirts of Paris. Overwhelmingly the staff were drawn from French colonies and experienced alienation from their departure, yet formed cross-cultural links in their shared predicament. It speaks to issues such as immigration, worker's rights and how these men's experiences relate to contemporary times. 

No Pasara is a work effectively ahead of its time. Commissioned by the European Union in 2008, it captures young Moroccans who are willing to sacrifice major parts of their identities - their homes, relationships, pasts - and even lives to seek better futures in Europe. At a time when migration to Europe is perceived as one of the most important political issues, it's a worthy reminder of the people behind the headlines and rhetoric.

The potential Alaoui expressed in her work makes recent news incredibly depressing. During an al-Qaeda attack on Burkina Faso, which left 28 people dead and 55 injured, Leila Alaoui was struck by gunfire and later died of her injuries. She was only 33 years old and on assignment for Amnesty International. If there's any solace, it's that Alaoui left behind a strong body of work that could be used equally as an influence in contemporary debate or as a reminder of the humanising power of art.

The following shots are from No Pasara.

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