Best Photograph - 2021

Best Photograph - 2021

Rania Matar (Co-Winner)
Rania Matar
Lea at La Maison Rose – SHE series. 73x91.5 cm
Lea is part of the series ‘SHE’. It focuses on young women in their twenties from all backgrounds. The work is about empowerment and collaboration, and each woman becomes an active participant in the image-making process.

Lea’s image represents Lebanon in many ways. It was photographed at the landmark La Maison Rose in Ras Beirut, an old destroyed abandoned home overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, a staple of the old remaining Lebanese architecture. Many old homes damaged during the Lebanese Civil War are still standing, in a frozen limbo – a painful reminder of a past that looms heavy over the collective memory of the young generation.

Even though this young generation has never directly experienced the Civil War, it is growing up in its shadow. As a result many of them had been protesting for a better, secular future for Lebanon. Here, Lea is looking at us but her body is turning the other way, toward the Mediterranean Sea, as if symbolically torn in 2 directions – staying and (oræ) leaving the past behind and moving toward a better future. The artist was Lea’s age when she left Lebanon in 1984.

“I almost see this image as a self-portrait of myself when I was 20,” says the artist. This is one of the reasons she picked this image as the cover of her upcoming book on this series.

Award winning Rania Matar (b. 1964) was born and raised in Lebanon and moved to the U.S. in 1984. Her work is in the permanent collections of several museums, institutions and private collections worldwide.
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