Friday, April 25, 2014

Finding Vivian Maier.


Last week I had the opportunity to go see the documentary film, Finding Vivian Maier, about a street photographer who spent the majority of her life in and around Chicago.

Vivian's story and artwork are unique because she was virtually unknown until a box of her negatives was purchased, after her death, by Chicago resident John Maloof for a book-writing project. Not quite suited for his needs, they were set aside until he eventually began scanning the negatives and created a blog posting the images. Maier's work is stunning.

The more he investigated this artist, the more he learned about her whereabouts, career as a nanny on Chicago's North Shore, and most importantly, her pursuit of photography. Literally thousands of negatives were uncovered in a storage unit, along with other memorabilia that filled the space floor to ceiling, wall to wall. There were also boxes filled with undeveloped rolls of film.

The film follows the pursuit of Maloof to uncover what he could about Vivian Maier. What unfolds is a series of interesting interviews, interspersed with image after image of Chicago and New York streets and residents, self portraits and even short "home movies" of herself and the children she helped raise. But regardless of all the clues left behind, you're still stuck asking questions and wishing there were more details. Vivian Maier was fascinating.

Without wanting to give too much away, I'll just say it's been over a week since I saw this documentary, and I find myself thinking about it daily. Wondering about this strange, complicated woman and going back again and again to look at her beautiful, tortured, stark and emotional images. If you have any interest in Chicago, photography, and eccentric artists, this is a must-see film.

*All images from website