Rania Matar  A Girl and Her Room

01_Shannon_US

Shannon, Boston, 2010

02_Siena_US

Siena, Brookline MA 2009

03_BeccaP_US

Becca P, Brookline MA 2010

04_Mimi_US

Mimi, Winchester MA 2011

05_Christilla_Lebanon

Christilla, Rabieh Lebanon 2010

06_AnnaFeiss_US

Anna, Winchester MA 2009

07_Rocio_US

Rocio, Dorchester MA 2010

08_Rim_Lebanon

Reem, Doha Lebanon 2010

09_BeccaG_US

Becca G, Winchester MA 2011

10_MaddieChloe_US

Maddie Chloe, Cornwall NY 2010

11_Jess_US

Jess, Jamaica Plain MA, 2010

12_Ellice_US

Ellice, Jamaica Plain MA 2010

13_Arielle_US

Arielle, Westwood MA 2011

14_Alia_Lebanon

Alia, Beirut Lebanon 2010

15_Bisan_Bethlehem

Bisan, Bethlehem West Bank 2009

16_Lilly_US

Lilly, Brookline MA 2009

17_Brianna_US

Brianna, Winchester MA 2009

18_Brittany_US

Brittany, Boston Ma 2010

19_Kate_US

Kate, Boston MA 2010

20_Danielle_US

Danielle, Boston MA 2010

21_Andrea_Lebanon

Andrea, Beirut Lebanon 2010

22_Lubna_Lebanon

Lubna, Beirut Lebanon 2010

23_Tori_US

Tori, Exeter NH 2010

24_Lucy_US

Lucy, Brookline, MA 2011

25_Zahra_Lebanon

Zahra, Beirut Lebanon 2010

26_Stephanie_Lebanon

Stephanie, Beirut Lebanon 2010

27_Raissa_US

Raissa, Meford MA 2009

28_Emma_US

Emma, Boston 2009

29_Devin_US

Devin, Winchester MA 2009

30_Izzy_US

Izzy, Brookline MA 2011

31_Elham_PalRefugeeCamp

Elham, Shatila Refugee Camp, Beirut 2009

32_Mara_US

Mara, Brookline MA 2009

33_Hailey_US

Hailey, Exeter NH 2010

34_Geneva_US

Geneva, Brookline MA 2011

35_Hiba_PalRefugeeCamp

Hiba, Bourj El Barajneh Refugee Camp, Beirut 2010

36_Karla_US

Karla, Cambridge MA 2011

37_Maryam_PalRefugeeCamp

Maryam, Bourj El Shamali, Tyre Lebanon 2009

38_RaniaReem_Jerusalem

Reem and Rania, Bethlehem, West Bank, 2009

39_Sabine_Lebanon

Sabine, Rabieh Lebanon 2010

40_Ellie_US

Ellie, Brookline MA 2010

41_HelenMei_US

Helen Mei, Roxbury MA 2010

42_Krystal_US

Krystal, Boston 2009

 

As a mother of teenage daughters I watch their passage from girlhood into adulthood, fascinated with the transformation taking place, the adult personality taking shape and a gradual self-consciousness replacing the carefree world they had known and lived in so far. I started photographing them and their girlfriends, and quickly realized how aware they were of each other’s presence, and how much the group affected the identity they were portraying to the world. From this recognition the idea of photographing each girl alone, by herself, emerged.

In the beginning I asked the girls to chose where they wanted to be photographed.  A number of them chose their bedrooms, and it was then I realized that was the nexus of a project.  The room was a metaphor, an extension of the girl, but also the girl seemed to be part of the room, to fit in, just like everything else in the material and emotional space.
While I started this work with my daughters and their friends, and with daughters of my friends, I eventually moved away from only photographing girls that I knew well. I enjoyed discovering new girls and building with them a photographer/model relationship with no expectation or holding back from either of us.  It allowed me to meet girls from all different backgrounds and different worlds.  I always spent time with each girl, so she was comfortable with me and eventually the photography session became a beautiful and intimate collaboration. I was discovering a person on the cusp on becoming an adult, but desperately holding on to the child she barely outgrew, a person on the edge between two worlds, trying to come to terms with this transitional time in her life and adjust to the person she is turning into. Posters of rock stars, political leaders or top models were displayed above a bed covered with stuffed animals; mirrors were an important part of the room, a reflection of the girls’ image to the world; personal objects, photos, clothes everywhere, chaotic jumbles of pink and black make-up and just stuff, seemed to give a sense of security and warmth to the room like a womb within the outside world.
I initially started this work focusing on teenage girls in the United States and eventually expanded the project to include girls from the two worlds I am most familiar with, the two worlds I experienced myself as a young woman: the United States and the Middle East. This is how this project became very personal to me. I became fascinated with the similar issues girls at that age face, regardless of culture, religion and background, as they learn to deal with all the pressures that arise as they become conscious and aware of the surrounding world wherever this may be.
Being with those young women in the privacy of their world gave me a unique peek into their private lives and their inner selves. They sensed that I was not judging them and became an active part of the project. Their frankness and generosity in sharing access was a privilege that they have extended to me but also to all the viewers of this work.

The beauty and strength, the aspirations and dreams of these young women are deeply moving and I have tried to be the invisible mirror of those qualities here. My deepest hope is for each of them to achieve the fullness of her promise.

All images © courtesy of Rania Matar

www.raniamatar.com

A Girl and Her Room | Monograph