Monday, March 17, 2014

Finding Vivian Maier

I indeed feel fortunate in having had the opportunity to view Finding Vivian Maier online this weekend, just for previously supporting Mr. Maloof's effort with such a modest contribution. I guess like many others, I thought I pretty much had a handle on the whole myth and magic of this enigmatic figure, when in truth I didn't realize, or even imagine, the task it would be to balance the many facets and dueling natures of this complex human being and gifted artist that Mr. Maloof would eventually come to uncover- along with the mountains of undeveloped film and negatives that he would unearth and sort through. And even upon her death, as he takes on the full time job of promoting and celebrating her legacy, she is still as much shunned by certain factions of the photographic hierarchy, as she was by society in general during her rather eccentric and secretive life.

Unlike The Vivian Maier Mystery by the BBC which sought in large part to bare her photographic pedigree, this project concentrates on the person, as it seeks to lay clear that this was not just some care free, devil may care Mary Poppins. And it makes for a far more interesting portrait. Vivian had some serious problems, issues she could neither fathom nor resolve. But she sure could take a picture, a fact that she did not actively promote by any measure- but that she was definitely not unaware of! And this film is a fitting tribute to an artist who was very much attuned to the humor, suffering and subtle nuances that life bequeaths upon us all. Of course, no one can say if she created her remarkable legacy because of or despite her considerable psychic trauma- but her legacy attests to the extent to which she could triumph above it.

Finally, there are those who would criticize Mr. Maloof for making a buck from the life's work of an anonymous artist who suffered an isolated and ultimately impoverished death. Without any self aggrandizement, Mr. Maloof does allude to the still ongoing amount of work that he has willingly and enthusiastically undertaken to preserve and disseminate her work in the most dignified manner possible. His may have been a chance encounter, a sheer collision of coincidence, but we can all be grateful that someone (without any previous photographic experience) had the wherewithal to successfully navigate the corridors of the art world to complement and complete the earthly mission of the lady with the floppy hat...

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