Clear Boundaries: Rania Matar And Arne Svenson | Viewing Room Exhibition At Robert Klein Gallery Through September 7, 2020

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Left: Rania Matar, Austin, Boston, Massachusetts, 2020. Right: Arne Svenson, Neighbors #66, 2012
Left: Rania Matar, Austin, Boston, Massachusetts, 2020. Right: Arne Svenson, Neighbors #66, 2012

Two acclaimed photographers, Rania Matar and Arne Svenson, have documented their subjects—friends, neighbors, and strangers—by peering through windows from varying perspectives. The photographs can be seen in a viewing room exhibition entitled Clear Boundaries at Robert Klein Gallery through September 7, 2020.

While standing at her kitchen sink this March during quarantine, Rania Matar noticed a neighbor reclining in her window seat, which led her to think about “connecting across barriers.” Intrigued by how the pandemic was halting human contact, she began her ongoing socially-distanced series On Either Side of the Window by asking for participants on social media.

As Matar notes: “It humbled me how many people were willing to be part of this, but also how important the human interaction we often took for granted was – for both of us on either side of the window and of the camera.  Despite the fact that we only communicated across a physical barrier, we really and truly made a connection. The sense of being inside or outside was blurred. I am outside and looking in, but seeing the outside reflected onto the person in front of me. Depending on where I stood, we could even overlap, connecting us on many levels metaphorically and personally despite the physical barrier between us.”

Arne Svenson’s work also looks through windows and often references images from art history. Although they were produced pre-Covid, Svenson’s two series, The Neighbors and Invisible, from 2021 and 2019, take on a new relevance as more time is being spent at home. His subjects are not aware of the photographer’s lens, and their identities are sheltered from view.

As he notes about his series Invisible, “I’ll shoot through a window, a scrim, a curtain of smoke, alerting you to a presence but never revealing the person whom, without intervention, will always remain as pictured—invisible. For The Neighbors, he says, “The grid structure of the windows frames the quotidian activities of the neighbors, forming images which are puzzling, endearing, theatrical and often seem to mimic art history, from Delacroix to Vermeer.”

Together the images from Rania Matar and Arne Svenson in Clear Boundaries reveal a quiet beauty behind the window. Whether the subject is communicating wordlessly to the photographer or going about the daily mundane activities of life, the images provide a provocative view of life enclosed within the boundaries of home.

About Rania Matar

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 exhibited in museums worldwide, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., and more. It is part of the permanent collections of several museums, institutions, and private collections. A mid-career retrospective of her work was recently on view at the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Matar has received a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, 2017 Mellon Foundation artist-in-residency grant, 2011 Legacy Award at the Griffin Museum of Photography, 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. She has published three books: L’Enfant-Femme, 2016; A Girl and Her Room, 2012; and Ordinary Lives, 2009.

About Arne Svenson

Arne Svenson’s photographs have been shown extensively in the United States, Europe, and Asia. In 2016, he received the prestigious Nannen Prize for his project The Neighbors. He is a self-taught photographer with an educational and vocational background in special education. Svenson is the author/photographer of numerous books, including Unspeaking Likeness, The Neighbors, Prisoners, and Sock Monkeys. Recent exhibitions include The Neighbors at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, 2016, and André Kertész/Arne Svenson: A ma fenêtre, at Galerie Miranda, Paris, 2019. His work is included in numerous public and private collections including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Harvard Business School, Cambridge, MA; The New York Public Library, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; and Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach.

About Robert Klein Gallery

Robert Klein Gallery ranks among the world’s most prestigious showrooms of fine art photography. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the gallery has developed an extensive and ever-changing inventory of 19th century, 20th century, and contemporary photographs. Participating in art fairs such Paris Photo presented with AIPAD, Photo London, Intersect Aspen, Photo LA, and The Armory Show, Robert Klein Gallery provides its contemporary artists with national and international exposure while exhibiting works by recognized masters such as Sebastião Salgado, Man Ray, Diane Arbus and Francesca Woodman. With decades of experience and a profound knowledge base, the gallery staff is committed to serving as a resource for both novice and seasoned collectors. Located at 38 Newbury Street in Boston, Robert Klein Gallery is currently open by appointment only. To contact the gallery please email [email protected] or call 617-267-7997.

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