We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
The photographs in “The Loveliest Girl in the World” capture teenage girls from Finland posing in settings that look like they come from dark fairy tales – autumnal forests, frozen waterfalls, snowy valleys and isolated rock outcroppings. But the images are more than just mysterious tableaux; they’re collaborative art projects, conducted over the course of a decade by photographer Miina Savolainen and 10 mistreated girls living in a facility in Helsinki. Savolainen and the girls chose their preferred locations – most of them isolated, broodingly romantic and moodily stunning – and designed elaborate dresses to wear. The project consisted of 70,000 frames, many so deeply personal that they are too opaque for the viewer to penetrate. But the most visually striking images are impressive – a girl whose reclining position echoes an intriguingly curvy glacial surface (above right), and a small figure standing under an icy blue sky between a snow-dusted tree and a sharply receding telephone line. Savolainen has taught more than 3,000 professionals in Finland to use photography in social work, health care and education – a good thing, both for the subjects and ultimately for the viewer.
Through Nov. 13 at the Embassy of Finland, 3301 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, D.C. (202) 298 5822. Fri-Sun 11 am to 4 pm.