Khamsa khamsa khamsa
‘Khamsa khamsa khamsa’ — “five” in Arabic, repeated three times like a protective incantation — is an autobiographical visual narrative in the form of a family archive. At first glance, it is where Julia Gat tells the story of her childhood and adolescence growing up with four brothers and sisters educated by alternative teaching methods.
However, underneath images that look like a family album, a photographer’s writing emerges. Julia Gat tells her story by gradually defining how she sees the faces and growing bodies of those around her, sometimes in peaceful Mediterranean landscapes. Portraits of friends and domestic scenes punctuate the work, which is structured around five protagonists: sisters Sara and Nina, brothers Michael and Jonathan, and Julia, the fifth sibling, who projects herself onto them behind her lens. “When I was ten, I promised myself never to forget how children see the world,” she says. “Everything’s new. Imagination blends in with reality and the unknown is exciting.” Documenting her everyday life is the running thread of the artist’s work, allowing her to connect the adult photographer to her childhood sensibility.
Born in 1997, Julia Gat is a photographer based between Marseille and Rotterdam. At the crossroads of documentary and portraiture, her work explores human interaction in its purest form. She won the 2022 Polyptyque Prize, the 2021 Steenbergen Stipendium public award and the 2020 ISEM Documentary Photographer Prize. She is currently exhibited at the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam and her first photography book ‘Khamsa khamsa khamsa’ was published by Actes Sud in 2022.
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