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Rania Matar April 12, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Brittany 19, Boston 2010

Rania Matar (b.1964, Lebanon) moved to the U.S. in 1984. Originally trained as an architect at the American University of Beirut and Cornell University, she worked as an architect before studying photography at New England School of Photography, and at the Maine Photographic Workshops. Rania teaches photography to teenage girls in Lebanon’s refugee camps with the assistance of non-governmental organizations. Her work has been exhibited and published widely in the US and internationally.  She recently won 1st prize at the New England Photographers Biennial Honorable Mentions at CENTER, Silver Eye Center for Photography. In 2008 she was selected one of Top 100 Distinguished Women Photographers by Women in Photography. Rania’s first book titled “Ordinary Lives” has just been published.

About the Photograph:

“I met Brittany at a yoga class and approached her as she was leaving class to ask if I could photograph her.  There is something very sweet and innocent about her that defied my preconceived perception of tattoos and piercings.  When I asked Brittany what she thought was unique about herself, she said her tattoos.  One represents the date of birth and death of her grandfather who she was very close to, and the others are the paws of her dog, who is her best friend. As a mother of a teenage daughter I watch her in awe, her passage from girlhood into adulthood, with all the complications that it entails. As I observed her and her girlfriends, I became fascinated with the transformation taking place, the adult personality shaping up, an insecurity and a self-consciousness that are now replacing the carefree world the girls had lived in so far.”

“I started photographing them in group situations, and quickly realized they were so aware of each others presence, and that being in a group affected very much how they portrayed themselves to the world. I also realized that under an air of self-assurance, those young women were often very fragile, self-conscious and confused. While their bodies were developing fast into woman’s bodies, they were still on many levels young girls.From there, emerged the idea of photographing each girl alone. I originally let the girls choose the place of their choice and was slowly welcomed into their bedrooms, an area that is theirs, that they can fully control, decorate, trash and be themselves in – a bubble within an outside world that is often intimidating. I spent time with each girl, so she was comfortable with me and was able to let down her guards, free of any preconception of what she would like to portray consciously. I was fascinated to discover a person on the cusp on becoming an adult, but desperately holding on to the child she just barely left behind; a person on the edge between two worlds.”

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