Leila Alaoui | Crossings

Deep blue waters take over the triple-screen installation of Leila Alaoui, to the sounds of undulating waves only interrupted by the insisting cries of a baby. A distant rustle progressively covers the sea sounds to identify itself as the mechanical noise of helicopter blades, now most probably situated right above a boat that one cannot see but clearly imagines. The bird eye perspective of the sea, paired with waves flowing away from the viewer, indicates the idea of a forward movement that can be observed while sitting on the back edge of a boat. Suddenly, surrounding noises are substituted by the melancholic words of a man:  

“I feel like going back, but where will I go to, if I go back?  

I feel like staying here, but where will I stay if I stay?  

I feel like dying.” 

Crossings, 2013, 3-Screen Video Installation

Resulting from months-long research in Morocco, where she met and interviewed number of migrants, the video installation of French Moroccan artist Leila Alaoui, evocatively titled Crossings, represents an homage to Sub-Saharan migrants and their perseverant journeys to reach safer locations.  

On Alaoui’s screens, backdrops transition from road markings to forest trees to desert landscapes to portraits of African men, women, and children facing the viewer.  All of this to the voices of other disillusioned travellers, inevitably enveloping the viewer into a poignant narrative that clarifies the painful circumstances of their struggles to stay alive while hoping to reach their final destination.

Image courtesy of the artist 

Find out more about Leila Alaoui here