Project Statement

As a Lebanese-born American woman and mother, my cross-cultural experiences inform my art. I have dedicated my work to exploring issues of personal and collective identity through photographs of female adolescence and womanhood –both in the United States where I live and the Middle East where I am from – in an effort to focus on notions of identity and individuality within the context of the underlying universality of these experiences. I am interested in young women as they enter adulthood today, and in portraying not only their individuality, but also how they confront the environment they find themselves in.

I want to portray the raw beauty of their age, their individuality, physicality, texture, and mystery. I photograph them the way I, a woman and a mother, see them: beautiful, alive, through a lens that both confronts and challenges the objectifying gaze so true to representations of femininity past. I create a narrative with them. The process is collaborative, and the photo session evolves organically as they become active participants in the image-making process, presiding over the environment, and making it their own. I find myself focusing on their strength and their majestic presence.

My work addresses the states of ‘Becoming’ – the fraught beauty and the vulnerability of growing up – in the context of the visceral relationships to our physical environment and universal humanity, but it is also about collaboration, experimentation, performance, empowerment, and about pushing the limits of creativity and self-expression.

By collaborating with women in the United States and the Middle East, I focus on our essence, our physicality and the commonalities that make us human, ultimately highlighting how female subjectivity develops in parallel forms across cultural lines.

SHE, the book

SHE is Rania Matar’s fourth book.
Released October 2021
Published by RADIUS BOOKS
Texts by Mark Alice Durant and Orin Zahra

More About the Book