Not sure if you have ever watched Finding Vivian Maier (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️), a 2013 Oscar-nominated documentary about a woman who worked as a full-time nanny and at the same time took thousands of photographs mainly on the streets of New York and Chicago. These were later discovered, often undeveloped, in storage units, and sold at thrift auctions eventually, around the time of her death in 2009, finding their way online. The documentary is trying to solve Vivian Maier’s mystery but I have never been that interested in her private life. It was her work I wanted to see more of. And finally, an exhibition devoted to her oeuvre came to the UK. Vivian Maier: Anthology (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️) at the MK Gallery presents only 0.001% of her archive but I thought it was a well-curated show, which highlights the satisfying range of her work – street scenes, portraits of rich, poor, and movie stars, as well as children, architecture, and self-portraits in black and white and colour. All of which showcase a truly talented and bold street photographer with an uncanny eye for detail.
There have been a lot of controversies behind the exploitation of her work, as well as her private story, which she never shared with anyone. Films about her both Finding Vivian Maier and Who Took Nanny’s Pictures (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️) are painting a rather sad portrait of her single life, but when I see her photographs a totally different image emerges. To me, Vivian Maier, was a fearless, independent woman, with a great sense of humor and tenderness, who was curious about people and the world around her. Susan Sontag in On Photography writes that photographs ‘help people to take possession of space in which they are insecure’ and I can only see Vivian Maier as someone who despite choosing to live a solitary life, truly cared about others and found a beautiful way to connect with them.