© M’hammed Kilito

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M’hammed Kilito

Casablanca, Morocco

Artist Statement

Before It's Gone,

Located in arid and semi-arid regions and considered as an ecological bulwark against desertification and an important refuge for biodiversity, oases constitute an original ecosystem, based on the right balance of three elements: The abundance of water, the quality of the soil and the presence of date palms. The date palms with their parasol-shaped foliage create a real humid microclimate, shaded from the wind and favorable to the development of plants. For the past twenty years, this balance no longer exists and these islands of greenery in the middle of the desert are suffering the impacts of human intervention and climate change. Indeed, according to official statistics from the Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture, over the last century, Morocco has already lost two-thirds of its 14 million palm trees.

In 2019, Greenpeace warned of the threat of extinction facing oases due to the considerable impact of high temperatures on their water resources, resulting in a decrease in agricultural and livestock activities and the displacement of indigenous populations. According to the organization, the frequency of droughts has increased over the past twenty to forty years in Morocco from once every five years to once every two years.

"Before It’s Gone" is an ongoing, long-term photographic project that highlights the complex and multidimensional issues of oasis degradation in Morocco and its impact on its inhabitants. Over the past few years, I have visited many oases, where I have made strong connections with its inhabitants. I was able to understand this rich environment but also its glaring realities. I realized that desertification, recurrent droughts and fires, changes in agricultural practices, overexploitation of natural resources, rural exodus and the sharp drop in the water table are all imminent threats to the existence of oases.

I decided to work on this project to highlight these multiple concerns rarely covered by the media and largely unknown to the general public. My research also aims to better understand different approaches, practices, and programs applied to the valorization, conservation, and sustainable development of heritage sites such as oases, which are known to be environmentally sensitive.

The oasis is a model born of the virtuous interaction of desert populations with their environment. It is a true model of natural and human resource management that can guarantee the prosperity of a group of communities from which we should be inspired. My ultimate hope is that through my research and artistic work, I can share my conviction that oases are exceptional places of life and awaken the awareness of decision-makers and the general public to their undeniable value in order to protect them.

© M’hammed Kilito

M’hammed Kilito's Portfolio

© M’hammed Kilito

Artist Biography

M'hammed Kilito is a documentary photographer and a National Geographic explorer based in Casablanca, Morocco. His practice focuses on the relationship between groups or individuals and their environments. His works capture narratives that facilitate an understanding of this relationship, covering issues related to cultural identity, the sociology of work, and climate change.

Currently, Kilito is completing the prestigious two- year VII Mentor Program. His latest project Before It's Gone was shortlisted for Leica Oskar Barnack Award, is the recipient of the Contemporary Artist Prize by François Schneider Foundation and the first prize of Encontros da Imagem. World Press Photo Foundation designated Kilito as north African regional coordinator for the 2022 World Press Photo Contest.

Ateliers Medicis and the Centre national des arts plastiques (Cnap) selected Kilito in 2021 to take part in the French national photographic commission: "Regards du Grand Paris".

In 2020, Kilito was chosen by the British Journal of Photography among the 18 best emerging photographers from across the globe to watch, was the winner of 6x6 Global Talent by World Press Photo, received The Photography Prize of the Fondation des Treilles and won CAP Prize, the prize for the contemporary african photography. This same year, he co-founded KOZ, a collective of four Moroccan visual artists working on long-term projects and sharing a passion for storytelling.
He is an alumnus of the 2019 edition of the Eddie Adams Workshop in New York where he earned a National Geographic Award. In 2018, Kilito was part of the Arab Documentary Photography Program, a joint program by Magnum Foundation, Arab Fund for Art and Culture (AFAC), and Prince Claus Fund during which he worked on his ongoing project Portrait of a generation questioning the realities of Moroccan youth. In 2016, he received a grant from the Ministry of Culture of the Kingdom of Morocco and started photographing the series Destiny about the relationship between work and social determinism which was exhibited at PhotoESPAÑA Festival (Madrid), the French Institute (Rabat), Addis Foto Festival (Addis Ababa), Revela'T Festival (Barcelona) and The Africa Institute (Sharjah).

His work has been shown at festivals and venues including Sharjah Art Foundation (Sharjah), 1:54 Art Fair (Paris), Tate Modern (London), National Museum of Photography (Rabat), Beirut Image Festival (Beirut), Photo Vogue Festival (Milan), Helsinki Photo Festival (Helsinki) and Breda Photo Festival (Breda) amidst others. His photographs have been featured in magazines and newspapers such as The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The British Journal of Photography, Vogue Italia, L'Express, VICE Arabia and El Pais.

Kilito graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Montreal and an M.A. in Political Science from Ottawa University.



© M’hammed Kilito

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