EN FOCO | Photographers  

© Rania Matar
Dead Mother, Beirut, The Veilseries, 2005.

© Rania Matar
Water Pipes, Bourj El Barajneh Refugee Camp, Beirut
The Forgotten People
series, 2005. Archival pigment print, 24x36"

© Rania Matar
Playing on the Roof, Shatila Refugee Camp, Beirut.
The Forgotten People
series, 2005. Archival pigment print, 24x36"

Rania Matar
Born: 1964, Beirut, Lebanon
Resides: Brookline, MA


Selected Exhibitions:
En Foco at Venice Arts, Venice, CA 2013
En Foco at The Arts at CIIS, San Francisco, CA 2013
En Foco at Aljira, Newark, NJ 2012
En Foco at the Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, DC 2012
En Foco at Light Work, Syracuse, NY 2011
The Mosaic Rooms, London, 2011
University of Maine Museum of Art, Bangor, ME, 2011
Photographic Resource Center, Boston, MA, 2011
Beirut Exhibition Center, 2011
Center for Contemporary Arts, Abilene, TX
Koppelman Gallery, Medford, MA
Silver Eye Center for Photography, Pittsburg PA
Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, MA
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA
Panopticon Gallery, Boston MA
The Jerusalem Fund Gallery, Washington D.C.
Eclipse Gallery, Boston MA
Gallery Farmani, Los Angeles, CA

American University, Beirut
Cornell University,
New England School of Photography, Ithaca, NY

Artist Grant in Photography from the Massachusetts Cultural Council,
2011, 2007
PDN Magazine Photo Annual, 2011
New England Photographers Biennial, 2007
Women in Photography, 2007
Critical Mass Finalist, 2008
B&W Magazine, Portfolio Spotlight Award, Portfolio Contest, 2007
Merit Award, the Single Image, B&W Magazine, November 2006

Nueva Luz photographic journal, Volume 13#3 (En Foco: Bronx, 2009)
Ordinary Lives (Quantuck Lane Press and W.W. Norton & Co, 2009)

Artist Statement
"I grew up in Lebanon during the civil war. After living in the US for almost twenty years, I started photographing the aftermath of Lebanon’s war which led me to the Shatila Palestinian refugee camp, a five-minute drive from cosmopolitan Beirut. Shocked by the conditions people were living in, I started photographing the numerous refugee camps around Lebanon, hoping to portray the humanity and resilience of the inhabitants coping with conditions many would find unacceptable. This is not a political project and does not try to promote any solution to a complicated and sensitive issue, but a photographic portrait of a 'forgotten people'.

There are an estimated 360,000 Palestinian refugees in twelve refugee camps scattered around Lebanon. Their temporary refugee status spanning 60 years is becoming permanent, as fourth generations are now born and raised. Lebanon, healing itself from a brutal civil war and afraid of upsetting its delicate sectarian balance, is afraid of granting Palestinian refugees any rights that might bring them closer to naturalization. As a result they are banned from most professions and have to depend on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and local NGOs for education, health and basic human services. Compounded with a population increase in the camps due to high birth rates, conditions have worsened substantially over the last few years.

Despite such a gloomy picture, I found inspiration in people struggling to keep their roots, spirit and culture alive, who are hospitable and welcoming into their homes, and kids who make the best out of the little the camp offers them. I found inspiration in the incredible capacity and resilience of people to adapt and make the best of their circumstances so they can preserve their dignity, their hope and their humanity. As such, these photographs put a human face on a long forgotten people in search of a home."




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