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, Jnah, Beirut, Lebanon reflects Matar and Samira’s travels outside the refugee camp to create portraits. Here, Samira is centered and set within a field of tall grasses and budding wildflowers, the Mediterranean Sea just barely visible in the background. The natural setting’s sense of freedom and openness is undercut by tangled rings of razor wire. This image, taken by peering through these barriers, raises central questions of freedom and movement as they shape Samira and Matar’s lives.