'A Girl And Her Room': Rania Matar's Photographs Show Teen Girls In Intimate Spaces | HuffPostCopyright Rania Matar published by Umbrage Editions. This transitional period is marked by discovery and introspection, effort and work that her subjects undertake in an attempt to define their own identity. These rooms make a private and indirect statement about their individual identity, as compared to the external and public statement created by their attire and make-up. The collaborative portraits are a dance between the subject and a new acquaintance, who is both an older woman and a photographer. The girls are being requested to help create an environmental style portrait that will eventually reveal private emotions and places.
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Set in the girls' bedrooms — which range from spartan cleanliness to chaotic disarray — these portraits offer an insider's perspective of not just who these young women are, but the physical spaces that prove to be extensions of their identities. Her first book, Ordinary Lives , was published in Both visually stunning and culturally captivating, A Girl and Her Room offers a rare vista into one piece of what it means to grow up as a girl and to metamorphose into a woman, with all her obsessions, convictions, and fascinations, prompting us to find the parallels and universals amidst the differences and contrasts. Rooms are filled with the detritus of daily life from make-up and shoes, to stuffed animals and celebrity posters which function as constant, albeit often conflicting, identity markers. For all their apparent self-absorption and vulnerability, Matar's subjects exhibit a desire to be seen and willfully engage in a presentation of self before Matar and her camera. Susan L. Rania Matar's portraits of girls in their rooms are collaborations--in the truest sense of the word--involving the artist and her teenage subjects, many of whom she did not know before she undertook this project.
Rania Matar has produced an exhibition and a book of unique and subtle power. Rania Matar started out this series quite modestly documenting the transition from childhood into adulthood of her own daughters and their friends through the turbulent teenage years. The girls in these photographs willingly opened their doors to an outsider, trusted her, shared their intimacy with her and exposed themselves and their vulnerability. Rania attempted to get to the soul of each girl, to represent each one as truthfully as she could, and, by capturing each individual, to justify their trust in her. The room will be the first cocoon a girl creates for herself, of herself. It is the place she first attempts self-expression onto an environment.
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. I originally let the young women chose where they wanted to be photographed and after a couple of them chose their bedroom, 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.
A Girl and Her Room is Matar's second book, and was chosen as a Top 50 Winner in Photolucida's Critical Mass, won the Legacy Award at the Griffin.
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Since Virginia Woolf famously declared that all women needed "a room of one's own," the bedroom gained near-mythical status as a place where women could create, reflect and just be. And for young girls in particular, the decorations in their bedrooms are often important markers through which they express their creativity and personal interests in a safe, private space. Girls and their rooms is the subject of a comprehensive collection of portraits by photographer Rania Matar, which capture stunning and intensely personal scenes of teenage girls in their most intimate environments. Her new book, A Girl and Her Room , features close to images from the project. Some of the girls wear pink pajamas while others are in Converses and ripped tights. Many gaze in the mirror or out the window, while others talk on the phone, smoke cigarettes or paint their nails.