To the end

about Vivian Maier

Well, I suppose nothing is meant to last forever.
We have to make room for other people. It’s a wheel.
You get on, you have to go to the end.
And then somebody has the same opportunity to go to the end and so on

There was a time when photography was something like a mission. You had to wake up, loading your shootcamera, and going out with it, in the streets. You had to be good, and fast, because those moments wouldn’t be repeated anymore…

April 7, 1960. Florida

June 1954, New York, NY

When John Maloof wins the auction in order to find some pictures for his book, in 2007, the world doesn’t know who Vivian Maier is. With meager means, her photographs in storage became lost memories until they were sold off due to non-payment of rent. The negatives were auctioned off by the storage company to RPN Sales, who parted out the boxes in a much larger auction to several buyers including John. He’ll never find something useful for the book, but he will give to the world one of the most sensational stories of photography and beyond.

Once he realized the potential of that material, John looks for some information about the author on the Internet, but he finds nothing. He then decides to put himself on the way to Vivian. He will discover a mysterious character, over six feet tall, stomping her feet like a German soldier when walking and who hates to say her real name to people. Vivian is a nanny for a living, and it’s due to this job that John can find out more about her, by interviewing the families she worked for, and finally reaching her native village in France, where he will even organize an exhibition for its 120 inhabitants. His journey turned into an amazing movie, Finding Vivian Maier.

Although born in New York — 1926 —, it was in France that Vivian spent most of her youth. She returned to the U.S. in 1951 where she took up work as a nanny and care-giver for the rest of her life. In her leisure however, Vivian had begun to venture into the art of photography. Consistently taking photos over the course of five decades, she would ultimately leave over 100,000 negatives, most of them shot in Chicago and New York City.

Vivian would further indulge in her passionate devotion to documenting the world around her through homemade films, recordings and collections, assembling one of the most fascinating windows into American life in the second half of the twentieth century.

1950s, Chicago, IL

Undated, Canada

Often described as “Mary-Poppin’s”, Vivian had eccentricity on her side as a nanny for three boys who she raised like a mother. Starting in 1956, working for a family in an upper-class suburb of Chicago along Lake Michigan’s shore, Vivian had a taste of motherhood. She’d take the boys on trips to strawberry fields to pick berries. She’d find a dead snake on the curb and bring it home to show off to the boys or organize plays with all of the children on the block. Vivian was a free spirit and followed her curiosities wherever they led her. Sometime between the late 1990’s and the first years of the new millennium, she would put down her camera and keep her belongings in storage while she tried to stay afloat. She bounced from homelessness to a small studio apartment which a family she used to work for helped to pay.

In 2008 Vivian fell on a patch of ice and hit her head in downtown Chicago. Although she was expected to make a full recovery, her health began to deteriorate, forcing Vivian into a nursing home. She passed away a short time later in April of 2009, leaving behind her immense archive of work.



1 Commento su To the end

  1. What an amazing story and marvellous photos. Inspiring


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