Girl's life

By GREG COOK  |  October 2, 2012


It's hard being a girl. "They're dealing with their body changing," Rania Matar says, "with becoming women, with how to react to at-large society, to who they are as people, and how to express that, and how do they fit in."

In "Girls in Between: Portraits of Identity" at the Photographic Resource Center, the Brookline artist photographs teens navigating the transition — here in Boston as well as in Matar's native Lebanon.

In the artist's A Girl and Her Room series, subject Sienna's walls are pasted with fashion advertisements featuring scantily clad ladies, green-haired Izzy's arms are scarred from self-inflicted cuts, Rocia hugs her pregnant belly.

Matar photographs them intimately — bedrooms become havens, workshops, boudoirs. "In some of the images, unless you read the captions, you wouldn't know if it were taken in the US or in Lebanon," she says. "I felt that these girls were so much going through similar issues, no matter where they were."

Matar was an architect, pregnant with her fourth child in 2000, when she got into photography by taking a class to learn how to better photograph her kids. Her first major series, Ordinary Lives, documenting mothers and daughters in Lebanon, earned her a spot as an ICA Prize finalist in 2008. "In a place like the Middle East," she says, "where there's always one crisis or another — these women didn't ask for any of this. It was inspiring for me how they just get their homes running, raise their kids, and to keep going despite all of that."

The bedroom photos began when one of her daughters turned 15. "She had been such a tomboy, and all of a sudden she was a different person." Matar's newest series, L'Enfant-Femme, aims even younger, documenting nine-to-12-year-olds who seem naturally to assume fashion-model postures. Matar asks the girls not to smile (which she finds fake). They appear more guarded, maybe even standoffish, as they age.

We scan the teens' personal snapshots, vampire posters, beauty products, Hello Kitty calendars, stuffed animals, graffiti ("I will never deep throat a penis of cheese"), and furry pink telephones for clues to what signals girls are receiving from our wonderful, afflicted culture — and how they're responding. Matar says, "You can't forget what society expects of you."



Related: Photos: Exposures, Exposures, Digital language at the PRC, More more >
  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Photographic Resource Center, Rania Matar, arts features
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   A REALLY BIG SHOW!  |  May 21, 2013
    This showcase of tomorrow's-art-stars-today is both invigorating and overwhelming, with work by 194 students.
  •   CLOTHES MAKE THE MAN  |  May 13, 2013
    What does it mean to be a man? That's the question at the heart of this smart, sumptuous exhibit — one of the best shows in the region this year.
  •   MERRY PRANKSTERS  |  May 07, 2013
    Parked out front of Brown University's gray modernist Granoff Center on a recent sunny morning were one of those 15-foot-tall inflatable rats that unions install in front of businesses they're protesting and a limousine sloppily painted to resemble a yellow and black school bus.
  •   ALTERED IMAGES  |  April 30, 2013
    Among the handsome Washington Street storefronts of AS220's renovated Mercantile Block building, with their neo-old-timey signs, is the residents' entrance to the building. It is against AS220's religion to leave any space empty that can be filled with art. So the lobby is the AS220 Resident Gallery, which occupants of the building take turns filling with their stuff.
  •   IN THE CITY  |  April 23, 2013
    One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Providence art scene is how the city itself has been such a rich subject. A decade ago, the city became a galvanizing topic as artists fought to protect the old mills that served as their homes and studios from demolition — with mixed success. But lately, the community's industrial architecture itself has attracted artists' attention.

 See all articles by: GREG COOK