New York Downtown Scene is a community of experimental performance artists who create their work in unconventional locations around the city, with unlimited imagination and limited budgets. My involvement with this community started six years ago when I moved to New York with a dream to photograph theatre and dance.
While I was starting to know this community of creative people I realized how crucial it is not only to document the performances but also the creators themselves, people who make the shows but often hide behind the roles or backstage. I started this project in November 2016 by making a list of everyone I knew in New York and inviting them to my studio.
All of the portraits are photographed in the same setting: black backdrop, natural light and medium format film camera. Each session was unique with people arriving in different states of mind. Sober, drunk, before going to protests, after their last chemo, between rehearsals, while celebrating life's highs or coping with grief. From the very beginning, I wanted to make the session special for them, that's why I chose a medium format film camera as my tool and the formal portraits of 19 century and Renaissance paintings, as my inspiration. For the past two years over 200 members of Downtown Community had their portrait taken.
I am excited to present part of this work at The Invisible Dog Art Center in January 2019.
This will be the first showing of this body of work to a larger audience as printed images and also my first solo exhibition in New York. Presenting this exhibition at The Invisible Dog feels like coming home because so many of the artist I photographed performed there.
For the exhibition, I have chosen 37 portraits. Each will be printed in 20x20in size, mounted on 3mm black sintra and framed with a custom-made frame. The exhibition will take over the entire space of the Main Gallery at The Invisible dog and will cover all the walls in one line from January 4th to February 16th.
WHAT DO I NEED THE MONEY FOR?
[PRINTING + FRAMING]
It is extremely important to me to show the portraits of those people in the best possible way. Also, I want to the project to remain analogue and local, from the beginning to end.
All photos are shot on Kodak Portra 400 6x6 film and all the prints will be hand printed by the legendary printer, Julie Pochron from Pochron Studios located at Red Hook, Brooklyn. For over 20 years, Julie has been working directly with artists providing the highest quality fine art prints to galleries and museums in New York and abroad. Framing will be done by another local, Jeff Burke from Boerum Frames. The whole process will be made with my full involvement. It will take about 3 months to complete this work.
WHAT do YOU get?
To thank you for supporting this project and this community, I created some exciting rewards including drawings, postcards, and prints. There is also an opportunity to become a part of this project and sit in the same exact setting so I can shoot a portrait of YOU!
Faces of Downtown Scene is an on-going artistic archival that I am honored to create and maintain. By supporting this project you will help me to bring more visibility to the Downtown Scene and the people behind it. This exhibition is a first step I'm taking towards a bigger goal - a book with all of the portraits I took for the past two years.
Maria Baranova is known for photographing downtown theatre and dance in New York. Through this, she gained a unique access to the experimental performance community and expanded her photographic work to portraits in her long-term project, "Faces of Downtown Scene". Maria has photographed performance at dozens of venues, including Performance Space New York, New York Live Arts, MANA Contemporary, MoMA PS1, The Invisible Dog Art Center, FIAF, Watermill Center, Baryshnikov Arts Center and many more. Select publications include The New York Times, Time Out New York, Village Voice, Theatre Magazine, The New Yorker, Exeunt Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, BOMB Magazine, Boston Globe, among others.
Risks and challenges
The biggest risks of this project are time and money.
I reserved a year prior to the opening to research on printing and framing processes. After testing a few places I'm now confident in the team that will print and frame my works. During the past 20 years of being a visual artist, I self-produced a number of successful shows in different countries and my experience in graphic design will allow me to save money on printing materials and rewards.
The funding for this exhibition is coming from several places including commision fee from Invisible Dog Art Center.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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