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Carte Blanche : Julia Gat : Mare Internum


The Eye of Photography opens the second chapter of its new section, Cartes Blanches,  with the support of MPB. Each month, a French photographer will show an unpublished series while experimenting with equipment borrowed from the global platform for buying, selling and trading used photo and video equipment safely.

Following Laurent Poleo-Garnier and his series “Double Agents,” photographer Julia Gat captures the end of winter by the seaside in Marseille as part of her project “Mare Internum,” using the Fujifilm GFX 100s camera, on loan from MPB.


Julia Gat’s Mare Internum

“Mare Internum” is a photographic essay exploring coastal areas, aiming to examine the construction of identity in relation to the sea, especially in the Mediterranean and through my personal history.

Conducted over several months, it explores the role of the sea in the daily lives of coastal residents, our relationship with a shared maritime space through leisure activities, family or friendly gatherings, as well as the place it occupies in the imagination.

This chapter observes the dualities between urban and natural, chaos and calm, the warmth of bodies and the blue of waves. “Mare Internum” directly translates to “inner sea,” synonymous with the Mediterranean Sea. Documenting intuitively the people or places dear to me, the inner sea becomes the main character of a personal experience.

Between documentary photography and portraiture, I work on long-term projects about intimacy or the relationship between people and their environment. My first photo book, Khamsa khamsa khamsa (published by Actes Sud in 2022), is about my four siblings and our childhood. With “Mare Internum,” I seek to challenge the limits of the family circle as I get close to the users of the Catalans, Prado, Pointe Rouge beaches, or even the petanque grounds. A child playing alone, a man gazing at the sea, a couple in love, construction workers, a lady who decided to offer flowers, people who just met at the beach and are talking about everything and nothing…

Photography serves as a tool for connection, and the seaside becomes an equalizing space facilitating interaction. I think of the concept of “metaxu,” in-between moments, between waiting and movement. The images speak of trust: I photograph with the other, the act unites us, allows us to face each other and see ourselves, or face the sea together.

I am inspired by the paintings of Agnes Martin, which exude a serenity that I seek in my own work. In photography, my inspirations are eclectic: Sian Davey, Alex Webb, Rineke Dijkstra, Valérie Jouve, Dudi Hasson, Marco Barbon… and more recently, I discovered the work of Danit Ariel, Bahia Ourahou, Sarah Balhadère and Matthieu Litt whom I admire. Finally, at the heart of my photographic practice, I have always been touched by the relationship with forms, lights, and bodies in the work of my parents: my mother, a painter and visual artist, and my father, a contemporary dance choreographer. Their work made me sensitive to a certain precision of gesture.

Growing up by the sea, much of my childhood was spent in a state of meditative contemplation, observing the evolution of light on the water, watching the sun set behind the horizon. When I left for my studies to the Netherlands and New York, I realized it makes no sense to be so far from the Mediterranean, both for my life and for my work. The landscapes, culture, colors, and particularly the light in Provence are at the center of my photography, and I want to continue developing my practice around this sea.

In my work, I use a variety of analog and digital cameras. I choose to keep this freedom in order to adapt to the needs of each project. For “Mare Internum,” I mainly work with the Mamiya 645, and the Fujifilm GFX 100s was my first digital medium format, loaned thanks to the MPB platform. This camera allowed me to establish a certain closeness with the people photographed, a smoothness in its ease of use.

Developed as part of the “Bords de mer” commission by the Centre Photographique de Marseille with the support of the Bouches-du-Rhône Department and the DRAC PACA/Ministry of Culture, as well as the 2024 Mentoring Program of the ENSP Arles – National School of Photography, the “Mare Internum” project will be exhibited as part of the Rencontres d’Arles / Grand Arles Express from May 2nd to September 29th.



Julia Gat

Born in 1997 and living between Rotterdam and Marseille, Julia Gat is a photographer and filmmaker who graduated from the Willem de Kooning Academy and the School of Visual Arts, New York.

Her work intertwines a documentary gaze with an art of portraiture and intimacy. She excels in capturing family and personal environments, as seen in her series “Khamsa khamsa khamsa,” where the image seems to float like a latent memory while forming a more universal narrative. Like her ongoing series “Mare Internum,” her work brings out common denominators – ordinary landscapes with the sea, its horizons, and its joys or timeless reflections on collective life, friendship, and solitude.

She has recently exhibited at the Rencontres d’Arles as well as the Museum of Photography in the Netherlands. Winner of the Polyptyque Prize 2022, she was the subject of a remarkable exhibition of great elegance at the Sit Down Gallery, followed by her first book, Khamsa khamsa khamsa published by Actes Sud.

The artist, and The Eye of Photography, warmly thanks the MPB platform for their support. The “Carte Blanche” section would not be possible without their assistance.


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