Samuel Gratacap

1982, France
Nominee - Prix Elysée 2025

Samuel Gratacap (FR, 1982) is a French photographer whose work spans documentary photography and photojournalism. He is interested in the phenomena of migration and places of transit generated by contemporary conflicts. His projects are the result of long periods of immersion, taking the time needed to understand the complexity of situations and to restore what, beyond numbers, flows, maps and geopolitical data, constitutes the heart of the matter: trajectories and personal experiences.

Samuel Gratacap graduated from Marseille’s School of Fine Arts; his work has been exhibited at Le Bal and the Arab World Institute in Paris, Les Rencontres d’Arles, MUDAM Luxembourg and at the FOAM Museum in Amsterdam among others. Between 2017 and 2019, he led the Bilateral project between France and Italy, the book of which was published by Poursuite Editions in 2023. He is a regular collaborator as a photographer for Le Monde, notably in Libya and Ukraine.


Welcome Europa

Welcome Europa aims to document the journeys of women and men through areas of relegation in the Balkans and the Mediterranean. Focusing on border crossings into the European Union and compiling portraits for the last 15 years and revealing solidarity initiatives, Samuel Gratacap’s goal is to describe the violence and hardship of these journeys and show how civil society can react by offering concrete solutions in terms of hospitality and sometimes vital assistance to people in exile.

Samuel Gratacap aims to pursue this work by extending it to the western Balkans as he builds a visual story about migration and solidarity with people in exile on both routes-the busiest to enter Europe. At a time when Russian aggression has led Ukraine to ask for its membership of the European Union to be accelerated, western Balkan countries are also requesting for a reappraisal of their respective applications be in light of this context of war.

Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania and Northern Macedonia are transit countries for migration to the EU. As such, they have been part of a European border outsourcing strategy since 2016. Their membership prospects depend on their ability to regulate or halt migratory flows. The western Balkans migration route into the EU was the most travelled in 2022, with 145,600 entries recorded in the six countries, an increase of 136% compared to 2021. During the period January to August 2023, it was the second most active route with more than 70,550 detections. Increased migratory pressure on this route could persist in the coming months.

For more than 20 years, migration policies in Europe have not been able to deal with this persistent problem with a sustainable vision. Samuel Gratacap also aims to represent means of coercion by creating a kind of photographic repertoire of the abject, bearing witness to changes in the landscape for the sake “border protection”. Lastly, he will continue to focus on solidarity, with those who fight and mobilise wherever they live, as if to counterbalance the violence: when exile meets hospitality.