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Finding Vivian Maier

Directed by Charlie Siskel and John Maloof

USA, 2013

Cornerhouse, 20 July 2014

Finding Vivian Maier

An interesting documentary, its subject a woman who worked as a nanny and took thousands and thousands of photographs, the negatives found in storage lockers after her death.

About Vivian Maier’s personal life we know next to nothing: she apparently had no lovers or close friends, whilst contact with what little family she had petered out fairly soon.  To be sure, this was not a small-hearted person; her photographs tell us as much, if nothing else.  After looking at several it is clear they have a definite quality and character. The photographs have value as a record of the perceptions of an unusual woman, and may even come to be called art.

For those who know of Henry Darger, the form Maier’s life took will sound eerily familiar.  Another human being who had a humble job and lived a modest existence yet left behind an extraordinary body of work.  But while Darger retreated into his own world of fantasy, Maier confronted the world with her camera pretty much every day.  There’s more compassion in her work, more feeling for others.

Finally (eyes wide open) it should be said that John Maloof, the co-director, owns most of Vivian Maier’s photographs.  So he has a clear interest in promoting her work.

Well worth a watch.

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