Friday, May 2, 2014

Vivian Maier

"A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma."
~ from the "About" section of

Vivian Maier (1926-2009) was a nanny, and covert street photographer. The mystery and intrigue that surrounds her relates to how secretive she was about her photography during her lifetime. It was only after her death that her work was discovered - nearly 100,000 undeveloped negatives left in a storage unit that was put up for auction in 2007. Since this discovery, there has been Vivian Maier craze of sorts, with people interested in the mystery of her life, the professionalism of her works, and the ownership rights of her photographic legacy.

I had the honor of hearing Pamela Bannos,
senior lecturer in Northwestern University's Department of Art Theory and Practice,  speak about her extensive research on Vivian Maier and her "fractured archive." She described her dedication to demystifying Maier's life, and her process of research that bordered on the practice of forensic science.

Throughout Pamela's talk, I was continually struck by how amazing it is that Maier was capable of keeping such a high level of secrecy. I think my wonder stems from the contrast of Maier's guarded life in comparison to the world we live in today - one of constant sharing (see video below)

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