RANIA MATAR

Jacqueline and Juliette

Beirut, Lebanon                                                                              

Archival pigment prints mounted on DiBond.

Signed on the back

1/10

61 x 50 cm

Unspoken Conversations

 

Brushing out my daughter's dark

silken hair before the mirror

I see the grey gleaming on my head,

the silver-haired servant behind her. Why is it

just as we begin to go

they begin to arrive, the fold in my neck

clarifying as the fine bones of her

hips sharpen? As my skin shows

its dry pitting, she opens like a small

pale flower on the tip of a cactus;

as my last chances to bear a child

are falling through my body, the duds among them,

her full purse of eggs, round and

firm as hard-boiled yolks, is about

to snap its clasp. I brush her tangled

fragrant hair at bedtime. It's an old

story - the oldest we have on our planet-

the story of replacement.

 

- Sharon Olds

 

My work focuses on girls and women, transitions, identity and the passage of time. Unspoken Conversations explores womanhood at two important stages of life: adolescence and middle age. While I had been photographing girls and women separately in earlier work, I found myself including both mother and daughter in the same frame. Casual glances, hand gestures, subtle shifts in body language, shared embarrassments, vulnerability, are the focus of the images, conveying simultaneously the personal and the universal in the complex mother-daughter relationship. In spite of the particulars of each relation the images focus on the pressures of aging that mark both sides of a woman’s life as she enters and exits her years of reproductive fertility, capturing both the pleasures and uncomfortable realities of growing up and growing old.

 

Central to my work is also the duality of my own identity: my shifting identity as a mother, and my bicultural identity as a Lebanese-American. My work focuses on women in both the U.S. and the Middle East. Beyond the perceived differences, there is universality in our common humanity. In this work – as in my previous series, I hope to create a sense of shared human experience particularly that of women, and highlight how female subjectivity develops in parallel form across cultural lines.

Wafa'a and Samira                                                           Bourj El Barajneh Palestinian Refugee Camp, Beirut, Lebanon  

Archival pigment prints mounted on DiBond.                       Signed on the back

1/10

61 x 50 cm

Jacqueline and Juliette, Rania Matar
Wafa'a and Samira, Rania Matar

Born and raised in Lebanon, Rania Matar moved to the U.S. in 1984. Originally trained as an architect at Cornell University, she currently works full time on her personal photography projects and teaches photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

 

Matar’s work has been widely published and exhibited in the U.S. and internationally, most recently at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers From Iran and the Arab World; Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; National Museum for Women in the Arts, Washington DC; Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York; East Wing Gallery, Dubai; Galerie Janine Rubeiz, Beirut; Galerie Eulenspiegel, Basel; Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg Germany; Southeast Museum of Photography, Florida; Sharjah Art Museum; National Portrait Gallery in London.  

 

Her work is currently part of the exhibition Aftermath: The Fallout of War – America and The Middle East, curated by Carol McCusker, at the Harn Museum of Art in Gainesville, FL. She will have her first solo museum exhibition In Her Image: Girls and Women by Rania Matar, at the Amon Carter Museum of Art in Fort Worth, TX in 2017–2018.

 

Matar has won numerous awards, including the 2011 Legacy Award at the Griffin Museum of Photography, 2011 and 2007 Massachusetts Cultural Council artist fellowships, first place at the New England Photographers Biennial and Women in Photography International. She has garnered honorable mentions at the UNICEF Picture of the Year Award, LensCulture Exposure International, Silver Eye Center for Photography Fellowship, and CENTER, and has been a repeat top 50 winner at Critical Mass. In 2008 she was a finalist for the distinguished Foster Award at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, with an accompanying solo exhibition.

 

Matar’s images are in the permanent collections of several museums, institutions and private collections worldwide.

 

She has published three books:

L’Enfant-Femme, 2016

A Girl and Her Room, 2012

Ordinary Lives, 2009