With Before It’s Gone M’hammed Kilito looks at the death of the oases in southeastern Morocco. Oases are biodiversity refuges and natural barriers against the desert, and they provide essential microclimates that make life possible in the most arid regions of the planet. The balance of these unique ecosystems is based on three elements: abundant water, fertile soil and the presence of date palms that, with their parasol-like foliage, help lock in humidity, lower temperatures, and reduce the impact of the wind.
This long-term photography project, one of the winners of the Getxophoto Open Call 2023, brings us closer to what remains of these last oases. We see small groups of palm trees holding out in what used to be an island of greenery (according to the Ministry of Agriculture of Morocco two thirds of the palm trees in its territory have already disappeared); local activists who are fighting against depopulation and for a more rational use of water resources; and young migrants who have made their way back and forth between North Africa and Southern Europe as climate refugees.
M’hammed Kilito (Born in Lviv, 1981) lives and works in Casablanca, Morocco. He graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Montreal and an M.A. in Political Science from Ottawa University. He is a National Geographic Explorer, a Magnum Foundation grantee, a 6×6 World Press Photo global talent, and a Prince Claus Fund Grantee. His awards include the Contemporary African Photography Award, the National Geographic Award, the Misk Art Institute Fellowship, the François Schneider Foundation Contemporary Artist Award and the Hopper Prize. He has also been shortlisted for the Leica Oskar Barnack Award and was chosen by The British Journal of Photography in 2020 among the top 18 emerging photographers worldwide to follow. His work has been exhibited at Sharjah Art Foundation (Sharjah), 1:54 Art Fair (París), Tate Modern (London), National Museum of Photography (Rabat), Addis Foto Festival (Addis Ababa), Photo Vogue Festival (Milan) or Breda Photo Festival (Breda). His photographs have appeared in magazines and newspapers such as The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The British Journal of Photography, Monopol, L’Express and El País. M’hammed is currently developing the prestigious VII Mentor Program by VII Agency.
Getxophoto is an image festival created and managed by Begihandi, that has been taking place in Getxo—Basque Country, Euskadi—since 2007. This festival is part of a cultural ecosystem with the aim of being more participatory, hybrid, committed and sustainable. This thematic Festival is conceived as a platform that addresses contemporary challenges through different proposals, from visual storytellers around the world, in an attempt to create spaces for reflection and establish a collective conversation. Getxophoto is characterized by the radical defense of public space (both physical and online). For this reason, most of its programme is composed of outdoor installations, highlighting, on the one hand, the link between the image and the environment and, on the other, generating a more horizontal and participatory relationship with the public.
María Ptqk is the curator of GETXOPHOTO 2023.