Christine Alaoui: Life Line

Christine Alaoui: Life Line

The idea that photography is linked to death seems particularly apt to describe the work of Christine Alaoui. The world caught by her images has indeed vanished. More than forty years separate us from these scenes. The Morocco which she photographed – with its barbers presiding beneath tents or with its old dye-works – seems almost as far removed from us as an Orientalist painting of Delacroix’s. Nor do we recognize with any greater clarity the American streets through which Cadillacs pass with their antiquated designs. But this is not the essence of the matter. For, if Christine Alaoui has decided to exhibit her images, it is because her daughters, Leila (herself a photographer) and Yasmina (a visual artist), once encouraged her to do so. This is the same Yasmina whom we find here as a baby, lying on a bed next to her napping father (her father Aziz, entirely wrapped in blankets except for two legs and his still-shod feet). And this is the same Leila who once made a preliminary selection of her mother’s photographs: the Leila who, absent today, was killed in a terrorist attack in Ouagadougou in 2016.

Christine Alaoui’s photographs, with such simple elegance and such touching everydayness, bear witness to a double loss. They are pierced through and through with an arrow of nostalgia, whose path traces the line of a life. As Roland Barthes intuited, sometimes a photograph can be at once the blessing of a captured moment and its curse.

All proceeds from this exhibition will be donated to the Leila Alaoui Foundation. Life Line runs until December 21, 2017, at Sulger-Bell Lovell.

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