Before Alaoui’s death, East Wing had started to work on an exhibition responding to the current refugee crisis. “If I Leave, Where Will I Go” includes her three-screen, seven-minute video installation Crossings. The video is a reflection on the experiences of sub-Saharan migrants that Alaoui spent weeks researching as a participant observer in migrant communities in Morocco. It’s an immersive, cinematic piece, which recounts the harrowing experiences of individuals who embark on the dangerous journey to Europe, in search of a better future—a utopian narrative that too often turns out to be apocryphal.
“We wanted to create an exhibition that would promote dialogue in Dubai on these important and pressing issues as soon as possible,” Amison explained of the genesis of the show. “Of course, when we first started talking about mounting this exhibition, we didn’t expect that Leila Alaoui would be lost to us in January 2016. Her death hit both Elie Domit [director of East Wing] and I very hard and we wanted to commemorate her work in a way that could help us and our audiences come to terms with this sudden, senseless loss of such a talented artist and our dear friend. We were honored that Leila’s family allowed us to include Crossings in the show, at such a vulnerable and sensitive time for them, so soon after Leila’s murder.”