RIP Leila Alaoui

Leila Alaoui had been on assignment in Burkina Faso for Amnesty International for less than a week, working on a series of photographs focused on women’s rights. Credit Art Factum Gallery (Image via New York Times)

A few days ago I read the sad news about the death of Leila Alaoui, a French-Moroccan photographer and video artist. I was shocked and didn't want to believe it at first. She was severely injured during last week's terrorist attacks in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and she passed away on 19th January.

I first met Leila in Dubai 2012, we were part of a group exhibition, Women on the Verge at The Empty Quarter, curated by Hester Keijser. We met at the opening and hung out the following afternoon with Hester Keijser, Boushra Almutawakel and Laura Boushnak who were also in the exhhibition.  It was a fun afternoon and I recall thinking I was with a bunch of very cool ladies and wondered how did I get here. Since the exhibition, we were connected via Facebook and where I would read about her travels, her works and exhibitions.

I last saw Leila in March 2015 at Art Dubai. Her work was included at the fair, we spoke briefly, she looked happy. Leila's series, The Moroccans work was recently exhibited at Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. She was gaining recognition lately and she had more to offer.

It is always shocking and painful to hear about any deaths caused by terrorist attacks. When it's someone you know (even briefly), the pain gets a little deeper. Damn the terrorists and religious fundamentalists and anyone that funds and supports these criminals.

I read in the New York Times obituary, before travelling to Burkina Faso, she said to her friend, "Don’t worry, I have been to more dangerous places." Heartbreaking.

Read the New York Times obituary here. Also read this from East Wing, the gallery in Dubai that represented her.

RIP Leila Alaoui, 1982-2016.


Below is a small selection of Leila Alaoui's work. You can see more on her website. Look at her work, celebrate it and if her work is exhibited in a city you live in, go see it.

L’Île du Diable