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Exhibition from July 4 to September 26, 2022

khamsa means “five” in arabic. repeated three times as a protective incantation, it represents the space in which my siblings and i grew up, protected from any evil eye. at home, we speak hebrew, english, and french, having moved to france from israel in 2007. but frankly, we grew up in a bubble. a self-created world, playing games and inventing characters.

the youngest one is sara, fifteen years old. before her is jonathan, seventeen, michael, twenty, nina, twenty-two, and myself, twenty-five years old, l’ainée, the oldest. in-between domestic scenes and portraits of friends, my gaze evolves as my siblings grow up. when i was ten, i promised myself to never forget what it feels like to look at the world as a child: everything is new, imagination blends with reality and the unknown is exciting. coming of age narratives are usually recorded by a parent, but here it is the protective older sister, both participant and observer of this children’s world, striving to embrace those in-between moments.

we grew up outside of traditional schooling, in an alternative educational philosophy called unschooling, which revolves around each child’s needs and desires. my parents’ homemaking approach was to welcome us to the world with love and joy for the first seven years, then let us explore activities and social life until the age of fourteen, before supporting us in a personal project—in my case, photography—as it professionalizes until age twenty-one. without school to distract us, everything fell into place.

a warm and breezy late spring evening, in the garden of an old stone house by a lake. our home in france seems impressively solid from the outside, but the inside is soft and messy. you sink into its bubble, the joys and sorrows that have been lived here gather in your essential being. a sense of belonging transcends a peculiar fusion of serenity and boredom. there is nothing to see, yet everything is beautiful.


© Julia Gat, sister Nina and friends, 2016, France.

© Maria Lax, Awake


About the Artist

Julia Gat was born in israel and is based in marseille, france. she studied arts & humanities at the open university of the uk before transferring to willem de kooning academie in the netherlands and the school of visual arts in nyc to study photography. her work won the public prize of steenbergen stipendium award 2021, the prize isem young photographers 2020 and the prize portrait(s) de vichy 2016. in 2019, she was finalist of the bmw residency and blurring the lines contest. her work has been exhibited in europe and the us and she is currently working on her first book with french publisher actes sud, to be released this summer during les rencontres d’arles 2022. 

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