Women Coming of Age (A work in progress) by Rania Matar
You were there. I could hear you, but I only caught glimpses of you in the glass. Eventually I gave in and found myself staring at myself, reflected. Looking at myself looking back at me. Both of us trying to decipher the face that was in front of us. My eyes seeing me in mine and countless.
- An excerpt from Then She Fell, based on the story of Alice in Wonderland.
Women Coming of Age is a project still in progress. It focuses on women at a transitional and vulnerable time in their lives: not the teenage years that have been the focus of my work for the past few years, but the other transitional, in-between years: the "middle age" years.
My work focuses on people, transitions, identity, and being in-between. It has its basis in the duality and contradiction of a hyphenated cultural background. I am an American born in Lebanon. I photograph both cultures and each culture's implied desires and fluctuations of identity. The goal is not to draw a comparison between them but to focus on the universality and essence of being a girl or a woman. Our personal lives, choices and goals are specific to each of us, but the issues are often universal when seen in the larger picture.
The choice of subject for this body of work is an organic and natural one. I am a “women coming of age”, just starting to feel like an adult myself as my older children are entering college and leaving home, my parents are aging, and my roles as mother, wife, and daughter are all being redefined. I have immediate knowledge of how a woman perceives herself and is perceived, and realize that she is often undergoing similar transitions and can be as vulnerable as the young women coming of age that I had photographed over the past few years. It is not only how a woman sees herself and is seen. It is the fact that as she observes herself being observed more critically.
The work is self-reflexive and somewhat autobiographical in nature and shows qualities that each woman, on each side of the camera, brings to it.
Rania Matar lives and works in Brookline, Massachusetts.
To view more of Rania's work, please visit her website.