Rania Matar grapples with issues of personal and collective identity in her work. Born in Lebanon, Matar has lived in the United States since 1984. Drawing on her cultural background, cross-cultural experiences, and personal narrative, she has produced photographic series focused on womanhood, adolescence, and periods of individual evolution.

Since 2005, Matar has collaborated with Samira, a third-generation Palestinian refugee who Matar met at the Bourj El-Barajneh Camp on the outskirts of Beirut. While the earliest images are taken inside the refugee camp, later images record Samira and Matar on ventures outside Bourg El-Barajneh, taking photographs near the sea and in other areas around Beirut. Taken across almost twenty years, Matar’s poetic photographs capture Samira growing up. The moments Matar and Samira share in these photographs are contemplative and tender, capturing states of being and transformation.

Samira, Hasna, and Wafa’a, Bourj El-Barajneh Refugee Camp, Beirut is the first image in this body of work, taken when Matar first met Samira. In the photograph, Samira is flanked by family members as her mother extends a tray with tea and snacks. More than just marking the beginning of Matar and Samira’s extensive relationship, the image centers themes of hospitality and hope within difficult material circumstances. It also speaks to the relationships among daughters, sisters, and mothers—a long-running theme in Matar’s practice.