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Rania Matar
Rania Matar by Geoffrey Berliner
Rania Matar
Rania Matar

Rania Matar

Country: Lebanon/United States

Rania Matar was born and raised in Lebanon and moved to the U.S. in 1984. As a Lebanese-born American woman and mother, her cross-cultural experience and personal narrative inform her photography.

Matar's work has been widely published and exhibited in museums worldwide, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Carnegie Museum of Art, National Museum of Women in the Arts, and more. A mid-career retrospective of her work was recently on view at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, in a solo exhibition: In Her Image: Photographs by Rania Matar

She has received several grants and awards including a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, 2017 Mellon Foundation artist-in-residency grant at the Gund Gallery at Kenyon College, 2011 Legacy Award at the Griffin Museum of Photography, 2011 and 2007 Massachusetts Cultural Council artist fellowships. In 2008 she was a finalist for the Foster Award at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, with an accompanying solo exhibition.

Her work is in the permanent collections of several museums, institutions and private collections worldwide.

She has published three books: L'Enfant-Femme, 2016; A Girl and Her Room, 2012; Ordinary Lives, 2009.

She is currently associate professor of photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

All about "SHE":

As a Lebanese-born American woman and mother, my background and 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.

In my continuous exploration of what it is like to be a girl and a woman today, in a world that poses endless questions on girls and women of all backgrounds, I am focusing in this project on young women in their late teens/early twenties. They are the ages of my daughters - they are leaving the cocoon of home, entering adulthood and facing a new reality they are often not prepared for, a humbling reality most often harder than they expected and less glamorous than what is portrayed on social media. Whereas in A Girl and Her Room, I photographed young women in relationship to the curated and controlled environment of their bedrooms, I am photographing them here in the larger environment they find themselves in after they leave home, the more global backdrop that now constitutes their lives in transitions.

I want to portray the raw beauty of their age, their individuality, their physicality, their mystery, and the organic relationship they create with their environment, being in the lush landscapes of rural Ohio, or the textured backdrops of Beirut. I want to photograph them, the way I, a woman and a mother, see them: beautiful, alive. I want to create a personal narrative with them. The process is about collaboration and empowerment, and the photo session always evolves organically as the women become active participants in the image-making process.

My work addresses the states of 'Becoming' - the beauty and the vulnerability of growing up - in the context of the visceral relationships to our physical environment and universal humanity. By collaborating with women in the United States and in the Middle East - and while still looking to reveal the individuality of each young woman - 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.

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United States
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Born in Philadelphia, Emmanuel Radnitsky grew up in New Jersey and became a commercial artist in New York in the 1910s. He began to sign his name Man Ray in 1912, although his family did not change its surname to Ray until the 1920s. He initially taught himself photography in order to reproduce his own works of art, which included paintings and mixed media. In 1921 he moved to Paris and set up a photography studio to support himself. There he began to make photograms, which he called "Rayographs." In the 1920s, he also began making moving pictures. Man Ray's four completed films--Return to Reason, Emak Bakia, Starfish, and Mystery of the Chateau--were all highly creative, non-narrative explorations of the possibilities of the medium. Shortly before World War II, Man Ray returned to the United States and settled in Los Angeles from 1940 until 1951. He was disappointed that he was recognized only for his photography in America and not for the filmmaking, painting, sculpture, and other media in which he worked. In 1951 Man Ray returned to Paris. He concentrated primarily on painting until his death in 1976. Man Ray (born Emmanuel Radnitzky, August 27, 1890 – November 18, 1976) was an American modernist artist who spent most of his career in Paris, France. He was a significant contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal. He produced major works in a variety of media but considered himself a painter above all. He was best known in the art world for his avant-garde photography, and he was a renowned fashion and portrait photographer. Ray is also noted for his work with photograms, which he called "rayographs" in reference to himself. Source: Wikipedia “I have finally freed myself from the sticky medium of paint, and am working directly with light itself.” So enthused Man Ray in 1922, shortly after his first experiments with camera-less photography. He remains well known for these images, commonly called photograms but which he dubbed "rayographs" in a punning combination of his own name and the word “photograph.” Man Ray’s artistic beginnings came some years earlier, in the Dada movement. Shaped by the trauma of World War I and the emergence of a modern media culture—epitomized by advancements in communication technologies like radio and cinema—Dada artists shared a profound disillusionment with traditional modes of art making and often turned instead to experimentations with chance and spontaneity. In The Rope Dancer Accompanies Herself with Her Shadows, Man Ray based the large, color-block composition on the random arrangement of scraps of colored paper scattered on the floor. The painting evinces a number of interests that the artist would carry into his photographic work: negative space and shadows; the partial surrender of compositional decisions to accident; and, in its precise, hard-edged application of unmodulated color, the removal of traces of the artist’s hand. In 1922, six months after he arrived in Paris from New York, Man Ray made his first rayographs. To make them, he placed objects, materials, and sometimes parts of his own or a model's body onto a sheet of photosensitized paper and exposed them to light, creating negative images. This process was not new—camera-less photographic images had been produced since the 1830s—and his experimentation with it roughly coincided with similar trials by Lázló Moholy-Nagy. But in his photograms, Man Ray embraced the possibilities for irrational combinations and chance arrangements of objects, emphasizing the abstraction of images made in this way. He published a selection of these rayographs—including one centered around a comb, another containing a spiral of cut paper, and a third with an architect’s French curve template on its side—in a portfolio titled Champs délicieux in December 1922, with an introduction written by the Dada leader Tristan Tzara. In 1923, with his film Le Retour à la raison (Return to Reason), he extended the rayograph technique to moving images. Around the same time, Man Ray’s experiments with photography carried him to the center of the emergent Surrealist movement in Paris. Led by André Breton, Surrealism sought to reveal the uncanny coursing beneath familiar appearances in daily life. Man Ray proved well suited to this in works like Anatomies, in which, through framing and angled light, he transformed a woman’s neck into an unfamiliar, phallic form. He contributed photographs to the three major Surrealist journals throughout the 1920s and 1930s, and also constructed Surrealist objects like Gift, in which he altered a domestic tool (an iron) into an instrument of potential violence, and Indestructible Object (or Object to Be Destroyed), a metronome with a photograph of an eye affixed to its swinging arm, which was destroyed and remade several times. Source: The Museum of Modern Art
Yasmine Chatila
Yasmine Chatila was born in Cairo in 1974, growing up between Cairo, Italy, France, and Canada. She graduated with a Bachelor in fine Arts from Parsons School of Design in New York, and Masters in Fine Arts from Columbia University School of Arts in 2002. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Tag Heuer scholarship for eight consecutive years, and a Columbia fellowship. Her work has been exhibited worldwide, including locations like Centre Pompidou in Paris, The Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, and Ludwig Museum in Cologne. Stolen Moments have been published by Rizzoli press in the book New York: A Photographer's City and World Atlas Street Photography published by Yale Press. She has been featured in international publications including Vogue Italia, NBC News, IO Donna, Interview Magazine, Foam Magazine, Art in America, Exit Art, New York Post, Wired Magazine, Blackbook, and many more. Her website has attracted millions of viewers, making her work synonymous with voyeurism in art and conceptual photography. All about Stolen Moments On a quiet winter night, I looked out a window. I could see a building far away, the windows were illuminated, and I could vaguely make out people inside their apartments. When I imagined what they might be doing, my mind fluttered between wild fantasies and mundane clichés. I was curious to compare my expectations to the reality of their lives. After months of continuous observation in different parts of the city, I collected hundreds of photographs of strange, comical, and often haunting moments. At times, I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of human nature when it was not guarded, not self-conscious, and completely uninhibited. This provided me with a stage where it was possible to observe myself in the most secret and vulnerable moments of others. In order to render the subjects unrecognizable, and in an attempt to render them more archetypal, they are taken out of context and displaced from their original habitat.
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