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Courtesy Leila Alaoui
STORYTELLING

The stunning work of a young photographer who died in the Burkina Faso terror attack

By Loubna Mrie

The world lost one of its finest documentary storytellers this week. French-Moroccan photographer Leila Alaoui died Jan. 18, after being wounded in a Jan. 15 terror attack in Burkina Faso.

“Leila was shot twice, in the leg and thorax, but was quickly taken to hospital and was initially in a stable condition following an operation. A medical evacuation was being prepared when she suffered a fatal heart attack,” Amnesty International said in a statement. She was in capital city Ouagadougou on assignment for the NGO when the attack occurred. At least 28 others were also killed.

Leila was born in Paris, and her work focused on migration, identity, and cultural diversity, in an unusual and deft combination of fine art and documentary photography. The 33-year-old’s work has been published widely  and exhibited internationally, including at the Institut du Monde Arabe, Art Dubai and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris.

Her last project, “The Moroccans,” was inspired by iconic US photographer Robert Frank’s portrayal of post-war America in “The Americans.” Over the course of an epic road trip through rural Morocco, Leila photographed women, men and children from diverse ethnic and tribal groups, including Arabs and Berbers. It is a lovely archive of country’s rich traditions and aesthetics, and one well worth taking a deeper look at now, as the Muslim world wrestles with attacks on its people and culture.


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