Rania Matar – A Girl and Her Room
“As a mother of a teenage daughter I watch with 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, with the adult personality shaping up, with 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 other’s 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 women’s bodies, they were still on many levels young girls who suddenly thought they had to behave like adults.
Siena 17, Brookline MA, 2009
Ariel 17, Winchester MA, 2009
Jessie 18, Leominster MA, 2010
Ai 22, Boston MA, 2009
Dima 19, Beirut Lebanon, 2010
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 – 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, trying to come to terms with this transitional time in her life and adjust to the person she is becoming. Posters of rock stars, political leaders or top models were often displayed above a bed still covered with stuffed animals; mirrors were always an important part of the room, a reflection of the girls’ image to the outside world.
Shannon 21, Boston MA, 2010
Mara 15, Boston MA, 2009
Ellice 21, Jamaica Plain MA, 2010
Elham 18, Shatila Refugee Camp Beirut, 2009
Emma 18, Brookline MA, 2009
Being with those young women in the privacy of their world gave me a unique peek into their private lives and their real selves. I thank them all for their trust and their willingness to share their private space and their private self with me.
This work is in progress. I am in the process of expanding it to include girls from different backgrounds in the US and abroad.”