Rania Matar L’Enfant-Femme

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Clara 8, Beirut 2012

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Youmna 11, Beirut 2011

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Maryam 9, Beirut 2011

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Alia 9, Bourj El Barajneh Refugee Camp, Beirut 2011

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Dania 9, Bourj El Barajneh Refugee Camp, Beirut 2011

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Hanna 10, Norwell MA 2012

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Christina 10, Beirut 2012

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Ayla 9, Beirut 2011

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Molly 12, Brookline MA 2011

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Samira 12, Bourj El Barajneh Refugee Camp, Beirut 2011

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Marguerita 10, Naccache Lebanon 2011

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Lavinia 11, Brookline MA 2013

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Olivia 8, Boston MA 2013

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Isabel 12, Lynn MA 2012

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Charlotte 11, Beirut 2012

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Devin 11, Wellesley MA 2012

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Madi 10, Watertown MA 2013

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Joelle 9, Beirut Lebanon 2012

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Yasmine 10 and Maryam 10, Beirut Lebanon 2012

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Penelope 10, Milton MA 2012

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Ella 13, Montiverdi Lebanon 2011

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Lindsey 10, Needham MA, 2013

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Nour 11, Chekka Lebanon 2013

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Jesse 13 #1, Brookline MA 2011

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Isa 12, Brookline MA 2012

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Fatima 13, Beirut 2011

 

L’Enfant-Femme” (the Child-Woman) are portraits of young teens and pre-teens and how they interact with the camera. The only instruction I give the girls is not to smile and I allow them to fall into their own poses. My aim is to portray the girl, when allowed to pose herself as she wishes in front of the camera. I try to capture alternatively the angst, the self-confidence or lack thereof, the body language, the sense of selfhood and the developing sense of sexuality and womanhood girls this age begin to experience.

For some, even though they are not smiling, one can see their sense of selfhood and their almost sensual pleasure in being photographed and in engaging the camera, while others are almost defiant in the way only teens can be, and others still are more separate from the camera, show more angst, are more self-conscious or look away. These are all emotions girls this age alternatively experience as they become aware of whom they are, of their changing bodies, their beauty, and their womanhood, but also of the world around them and the standards of beauty and attitudes they think they need to emulate. However, these are also still young girls who fluctuate between being the children they still are and the young women they are beginning to turn into. Are they (and we) meant to see themselves as little girls, as teenagers, or as young women?

This body of work was inspired by my thirteen-year-old daughter who was transforming before my eyes, alternating between being the little girl I knew and the young woman I didn’t know yet. I photographed girls in the US where I live and in Lebanon where I am originally from. These are not meant to be a comparison, on the contrary, as the lines blur quickly. Regardless of place, background and religion, girls that age everywhere seem united by similar feelings, aspirations and attitudes.

The images are shot on medium format film and scanned. Exhibition prints are 26”x 30” and 36”x 44” pigment prints on Baryta paper.

 

All images © courtesy of Rania Matar/Carroll and Sons Gallery, Boston

www.raniamatar.com