Rania Matar artist Inspiration

Portraits of girls on the cusp of teendom

Maters work focuses on girls and women. She documents her life through the lives of those around her, focusing on the personal and mundane, in attempt to portray the universal within the personal. L’Enfant – Femme is a photographic series that dismantles preconceived notions about the Arab world in the most personal and poignant of ways. She wanted to reflect her own upbringing. She reminds us that distinctions related to geography, social classes and places of worship are irrelevant for young girls wrestling with burgeoning notions of selfhood. Mater acknowledges the autobiographical elements that find their way into her photobook. She says ‘I realize that every time I photograph a young girl that I was her 20 years ago’.

For the project Mater invited pre-teen girls in America and Lebanon to pose for the camera  however and wherever they’d like, in their cluttered and hyper saturated bedrooms or facing a graffiti walls and staring down the barrel of her lens with confidence or against awkwardness.

The subjects are all apart of the same transformation of adolescence. The gaze and body language of each girl conveys a transnational struggle to find your place in the world. She got this idea who her daughter turned 12, her whole demeanor and attitude changed. She photographed girls aged 8-13 , originally Mater wanted to feature girls 11-12, exactly her daughters age but she gave herself more flexibility because girls develop differently, looking at pre-puberty.

Her documentary photography shows a fleeting moment. Some of the girls are confident and fragile at the same time. The girls were allowed to dress however they’d like for the portrait. The only cue that was provided was not to smile. Photographing them on a medium format analog camera, the young girls can’t see the photos. This took them out of their comfort zone. Staying away from the selfie attitude. She feels a lot more personality comes through when they don’t hide behind their smile.

A girl and her room

A girl and her room shifts its focus to impending adulthood. This photo book reveals the lives of girls from two disparate worlds, The U.S and Lebanon. These images are set in the girls bedrooms that vary from cleanliness to chaos. These images offer an insiders perspective of not just who these young women are but the physical spaces that prove to be extensions of their identities.

The way Matar photographs the girls in their own bedrooms shows them in a personal space, this almost builds a character for each of them, looking into the way they decorate and the spaces they inhabit. As I’m looking at documenting Young adults I feel taking some images in their bedroom will show a private side to these people and help the viewer have an inside look.

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