In L’Enfant-femme, Rania Matar (b. 1964) shows the vulnerability of preteen girls from different cultures that are developing sense of selfhood, sexuality and womanhood. By photographing with an analogue camera where her subjects cannot see the immediate results of the shoot, Matar takes these girls that are coming of age out of their comfort zone and reveals the pure emotions they experience.
In a political climate that seems to emphasize the differences between the West and the Middle East, she wanted to focus on our common hummanity, sameness and universality. Having lived in both the United States and Lebanon, her work focuses on girls and woman in both cultures.
For this series, she photographed 8 – 12 year old girls around Boston as well as in Lebanon.In order to have the girls drop the masks they’ve developed in the ‘selfie culture’ of today, She asks her subjects not to smile in front of the camera. In this way, she demonstrates that even when social backgrounds and ideas about femininity vary widely, the angst, self-confidence (or lack thereof) and body language of girls at this age is at its heart common to every culture.
These photographs are issued in the photo book ‘L’Enfant-femme’ that is published by Damiani in 2016.