Vivian Maier: the talent of a nanny
Viviane Maier, ‘New York, 28 settembre 1959’, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York – ph. Vivian Maier/Maloof Collection
Text Domenico Paris
Like in Affari al buio (Storage Wars), the television series on Cielo that helped to wipe out so many lazy Sunday afternoons.
We are in 2007, and John Maloof has just paid three-hundred eighty dollars to buy a garage at auction, expropriated to a woman who has not been paying the rent for a long time. The boy needs iconographic material to complete a research on his city, Chicago, and he hopes that something useful to this purpose will result from that heap of rubbish. Amidst the various objects, there’s a storage unit packed with hundreds of negatives and undeveloped rolls. They were made by an unknown lady, Vivian Maier, through the years. After having printed some of them, he posts them on Flickr and they are a huge success in a trice.
Then, Maloof tries to get in touch with her, but when, two years later, he finally attempts to find her, the woman dies.
This marks the beginning of one of the most stunning stories of the last decade, the nanny-photographer: in fact, it turns out that during her long existence, the author of those incredible street photos worked in several major cities of the United States. Loved by all her employers and by the dozens of children she had grown up, Vivian has dedicated almost her whole spare time by taking photos of what she saw in the streets with a Rolleiflex and various Leica models. The result? An unforgettable gallery of faces and foreshortened images that offer the spectator not only a precious evidence on the evolution of the American way of life in the second half of the Twentieth century, but, above all, a cross section of authentic poetry that this Mary Poppins of photography, always so shy in her self-timers, was able to catch with a sensitivity typical of great experts.
Those who have not yet stepped into her wonderful world, will get the chance to view it from 27 October to 18 February 2018 at the exhibition spaces of Fondazione Puglisi Cosentino in Catania, with ‘Vivian Maier – Una fotografa ritrovata’.(Finding Vivian Maier).