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Maria Baranova

November, 201
In early 2011 photographer Maria Baranova was given the unique opportunity to take part in the rehearsal process of "In Paris", a new play directed by Dmitry Krymov and starring Mikhail Baryshnikov.

She shot her first pictures in February at early rehearsals on a temporary stage inside Helsinki's Old Sports Hall. Her last shots were made more than 6 months later, in August at Korjaamo Culture Factory – just a few days before the play's world premiere there.

About the series, Maria Baranova comments:

"Throughout the project, I was constantly amazed at how the actors worked – and in a sense ‘lived’ – amidst their cardboard scenery. And it was equally fascinating to witness just how the director’s thoughts became reality – how the play itself was able to grow from a mere fragile idea to a whole and strong theatrical work.

To be involved with such an in-depth and complex project required a total commitment on my part, both as a photographer and as a human being. I had to be at once invisible and entirely present as I attempted to capture everything happening around me. Working in a completely integrated way with the troupe was necessary in order to get the results I demanded of myself from this project. What's more, I quickly came to feel the same weariness, devastation and joy as the rest of the company!

I followed the intense rehearsals through my camera's viewfinder for five to six hours a day, for many days in a row. And yet every single day the experience felt new – it was like photographing a new play each time, and I never got bored. During the course of the project, I took over six thousand photos, and the task of choosing only a handful of them to exhibit has proved to be quite a challenge in itself!

This amazing experience has taught me to strive to be ever braver in my work, and it has also given me new directions as a photographer. This is what I am most grateful for."

About the play: Based on a 1940 short story by famed Russian writer Ivan Bunin, “In Paris” tells the story of two Russian immigrants, a former general in the White Russian Army and a much younger beauty, whose lives collide in 1930's Paris. On 17 August 2011, the first performance of “In Paris” premiered at The Korjaamo Teatteri in Helsinki on the Stage Helsinki Festival.

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