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Numerous times over the past four years, Beirut-based Moroccan photographer Leila Alaoui has packed up her cameras, lights and a small portable studio and set off on a road trip to some of her homeland's remote rural villages.A selection of the best photographs from the ongoing project is currently on show at the Black Gallery in the Beirut Jewelry Souks, as part of Lebanon's second annual Photomed festival. The 12 portraits on display in "The Moroccans" convey something of the country's broad ethnic and cultural diversity. Alaoui's aim was to challenge stereotypical Orientalist imagery of Morocco and its people by creating a series of portraits that were more natural, concerned with showing the subjects as they chose to be shown, rather than exoticizing them.People in more remote villages are so unaccustomed to photography that Alaoui sometimes struggles to convince people to sit for her. Superstitions about having one's image captured endure, and in some villages people believe that photographers can steal their subjects' souls.
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