I came across this very interesting video:
Vivian Maier (1926 – 2009) was an American street photographer. Maier spent most of her youth in Europe, but returned to the U.S. in 1951 where she took up work as a nanny for the rest of her life. In her free time however, she was a photographer. Consistently taking photos over the course of five decades, she would ultimately leave over 100,000 negatives.
Vivian Maier: Self Portrait, 1955 © 2013 Maloof Collection, Ltd.
Her photographs remained unknown and mostly undeveloped until they were discovered by a local Chicago historian and collector, John Maloof, in 2007. Following Maier’s death, her work began to receive critical acclaim.
In the foreword to Vivian Maier, Street Photographer, edited by John Maloof and featuring images from his collection, Geoff Dyer approaches Maier through a consideration of her reclusiveness. “Not only was she entirely unknown to the photographic world, hardly anyone seemed to know that she even took photographs,” he writes.
Vivian Maier: Self Portrait, 1953 © 2013 Maloof Collection, Ltd.
Vivian Maier definitively had a talent for seeing, but still – her self-portraits are enigmatic. It’s like she isn’t really there, in the picture.
Having such a fantastic talent and not letting anyone know seems so very strange in a self-centered culture like ours. I wonder why she kept it to herself. What was she thinking …? Dyer finds it “unfortunate, perhaps even cruel” that she went unrecognized through her life, but can it be a choice of free will, not to have been seen, working in private?
In opposition to Dyer, John Maloof, editor of the new documentary film on Maier, says: One of the things that fascinated me early on was the fact that Maier was shooting photos prolifically while she had a career as a nanny and, at the same time, didn’t show her work to anyone for feedback. So, to me, this is the mark of a true artist; someone who can create a large body of work by themselves as an expression of their true self and it speaks to all of us in our own way. That’s important. She didn’t try to become famous, she didn’t create images for others and she didn’t see things that she knew others would appreciate. She saw the world in a personal, uninfluenced way, and her photos are a raw depiction of that world she saw. The photos are beautiful and important because, not only are they great images, they are not contrived. …
In my personal writing I’m working on a story about a person who suddenly (unexpectedly?) finds herself at the outskirts of the world. I don’t know very much about my character yet, and amongst the things I’m wondering about, is if her exclusion from the world as we know it is a result of choice or if she is expelled.
In some ways the story of Maier is a parallel to what I’m working on, and not knowing my character yet, I find the contradictory views of Dyer and Maloof very-very interesting. I really need to have a closer look at Maier’s life and work – !
ps: Julia Cameron would call my experience an example of Syncronicity. Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events as meaningfully related, whereas they are unlikely to be causally related. Syncronicity, says Cameron, is a coincidence that’s meant to be