We speak with famed Lebanese-American photographer Rania Matar whose acclaimed work revolves around interrogating images of femininity and identity, capturing what it's like to be a woman - whether you're Arab or American. Since time immemorial, woman as muse has been an endlessly recurrent theme that has threaded itself through the fabric of almost every society in history — societies, which incidentally, concurrently, were often positively soaking in patriarchy. And yet women emerge as the victors when it comes to fuelling inspiration in art. Men asked to be painted; women were asked. Lebanese-American photographer Rania Matar has found their inspiration to be so profound, so infinite, that her work for the past 18 years has focused almost exclusively on women — almost in fact, to the exclusion of nearly all other subjects. It has been exhibited the world around, featured everywhere from the Carnegie Museum of Art to the National Portrait Gallery in London; she has a slew of awards and grants to her name; three published books under her belt; she teaches photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design; and was recently named a Guggenheim Fellow for
Lebanon: More families are marrying off teenage daughters as economic despair sets in
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But when it comes to reality, it is different. The posts, displaying stock photos of young girls, offered contact information to arrange marriage transactions for the minors. An initial Lebanese outcry was loud and angry. The activist group not only sparked awareness about child marriage , they also lured customers. Men called the numbers making offers and talking themselves up as potential husbands.
As a mother of teenage daughters, I watch their passage from girlhood into adulthood, fascinated with the transformation taking place. The adult personality is 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. From this recognition, the idea of photographing each girl alone emerged. I originally let the young women choose where they wanted to be photographed.
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