A Girl and her Room by Rania Matar
This project is about teenage girls and young women at a transitional time of their lives, alone in the privacy of their own personal space and surrounding: their bedroom, a womb within the outside world.
As a mother of a teenage daughter I watch her passage from girlhood into adulthood, fascinated with the transformation taking place, the adult personality shaping up and a self-consciousness now replacing the carefree world she had known and lived in so far. I started photographing her and her girlfriends, and quickly realized that they were very aware of each other’s presence, and that their being in a group affected very much whom they were portraying to the world. From there, emerged the idea of photographing each girl alone in her personal space.
I spend time with each girl, so she is 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, 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 2 worlds I am most familiar with, the 2 worlds I experienced myself as a teen and a young twenty year old: the United States and the Middle East. This is how this project became very personal to me. I became fascinated with the similarities of issues girls at that age face regardless of culture, religion and background as they learn to deal with their emerging womanhood, their slowly disappearing childhood and their newly developed conscious awareness of how they fit in their surrounding world wherever this may be. Their rooms in all cases were where they felt safe, secure and protected.
Being with those young women in the privacy of their world gave me a unique peak into their private lives and their real selves. They sense that I am not judging them and become an active part of the project. I just follow their leads. I thank every one of them for their trust and precious collaboration.
Rania Matar is a Brookline, MA based artist.
To view more of Rania's work, please visit her website