Finding Vivian Maier

I am clearly a bit late to the game as today was the last screening at the Barbican. To a packed cinema might I add. Nonetheless, I feel compelled to write my own few words in addition to the litany of raving reviews already out there.

The story begins in an auction house, where young Chicago historian John Maloof discovers boxes upon boxes of negatives – over 100,000 of them. As he begins scanning them, he realises he has stumbled upon the work of a talented photographer, never discovered. A mystery, as why would someone take so many photographs and never get them developed, never share them with the world?

As the title suggests, they belong to a woman named Vivian Maier, who after a long laborious process of chasing leads, he discovers was an eccentric nanny. The documentary draws together displays of her evocative work, interviews with the families she worked for, her neighbours and friends, photographers and gallery owners, the narrative of Maloof, as well as an emotional dip into her family’s life in France.

It is captivating to watch a film about a true mystery, where the characters are real, the story evolves slowly, her mental struggles and turmoil are alluded to, though in the end we are still left with questions and blanks which can never be filled as the protagonist has passed away. Thanks to the perseverance of John Maloof, Maier’s work has been on display in countless cities around the globe. I wish I had known about her exhibition in London this past December; hopefully another one will come again. In any case, the story has inspired me to blow the dust off my film camera.

If you are intrigued as I was, there is a website featuring her stunning photographs and info about exhibitions.

Vivian Maier

September 24, 1959, New York, NY


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All images are from the official website above.

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