Monday, January 10, 2011

Treasure in the trash: Vivian Maier on

One might think the most fascinating about Vivian Maier's work is how she managed to take those awesome street shots. Or the fairy-tale story of discovering her work. Or the whole buzz around her in the street photographers' community.
All wrong.
The most fascinating about her is that she even made the jaw of virtual trash-collectors drop in awe. There's a dirty smelly little site on the Hungarian web called (subtitle: "everyday trash") which tiressly digs up the bowels of the net in its search for photographs of ugly people, videos of hilarious ways to die, in short: everything that's ridiculous and pathetic. Sometimes I check it up for inspirations.
And what do I see today? It says: "Vivian Maier: The Chicago nanny spent her free time walking the streets with her camera. More than hundred thousand negatives are waiting to be processed, her photographs are simply awesome." Now, one needs to know that if Subba were to grant the Academy Awards they'd give it to Two-girls-one-cup. Accordingly I expected some dreadful images, maybe badly processed ones or a sarcastic post to make fun out of the hype around Maier. To my surprise the site was indeed singing the praise of her work. Judged by the comments other readers were equally perplexed. Some of the comments are hilarious.

Dr. Otto Von Schnitzelpusskrankengescheitmeyer 2011.01.10. 08:17:05
This lady surely lived in a posh neighborhood. Or maybe she was just a squalor fetishist?
lebowski71 2011.01.10. 09:02:49
Never expected this stuff here :)
shitgun2 2011.01.10. 09:14:55
Phantastic shots, especially those with buildings, she has a remarkable feeling for lines and structures. I don't really like the sociographic images, they're all familiar but beautiful.
ReWriter · 2011.01.10. 09:44:55
You see, people took their self-portrait in the bathroom mirror even then (3:57 in the video). But they had no site to upload them. :)
nevetőharmadik 2011.01.10. 09:56:37
Subba, are u sick? XD
Peter Blau 2011.01.10. 10:01:28
Try to take the same shots in Budapest today. Half of the subjects would file a complaint against the photographer for violating personality rights. The other half would ask for money and others would simply smash your camera :-)
Egyedi Nick (Carter) 2011.01.10. 10:03:54
@Peter Blau: Maybe she too paid for the photos :) Anyways they are good photographs indeed but there's plenty of the like on the net, just check deviant, and if you go to such a run-down neighborhood and find a good motif and have good equipment and aren't a total dud you can take similar images.
Rav Antal 2011.01.10. 10:11:39
So if she "walked the streets with her camera", where are the movies? Or did you just fuck up the translation of the word "camera"?
Wild Colonial Boy 2011.01.10. 10:14:00
"you can take similar images" Won't be easy without a time machine.
Wild Colonial Boy 2011.01.10. 10:17:00
It's correct to call a camera a camera in Hungarian, it just ain't usual.
Rav Antal 2011.01.10. 10:20:51
and how do you call a camera?
Cpt. Flint 2011.01.10. 10:20:58
The Americans are lucky, these photographs are not only artistically great but have great documentary value as well.
Cpt. Flint 2011.01.10. 10:22:26
motion picture recording camera :)
Cpt. Flint 2011.01.10. 10:41:56
@Wild Colonial Boy: yeah and still camera :o) R2D2 is a motion picture recording camera when it's recording Leia.
fizetett troll 2011.01.10. 11:12:42
@Peter Blau: how true! my classmates had to take photographs on Moszkva tér and the Gipsy women selling underwear almost trashed'em.
nemacsuka · 2011.01.10. 11:14:13
Great shots, thanks for sharing. Amazing story, the book will be worth to buy.
digitime 2011.01.10. 11:23:27
"walked the streets with her camera." in that neighborhood... she was lucky no one hit her in the head for photographing :)
bestpixel · 2011.01.10. 11:25:18
The photographs – at least those featured on the – are good indeed but only for a housewife. Also, consider that if someone takes several hundred thousand images some _must_ be good, even if the photographer is a dud. She deserves praise for her commitment anyway. Besides, these shots are much better than the "artworks" taken with cellphones and uploaded everywhere...


Anonymous said...

"You see, people took their self-portrait in the bathroom mirror even then. But they had no site to upload them. :)"

That is f****** hilarious!

The good thing with the Maier buzz is that many people rediscover (street-)photography. The bad thing is that it definitely convinces them that it belongs to the past.

Pataki Balázs said...

It actually came to my mind as well! But let's be honest, one thing why contemporary people like street photography is that the classics open a window to a time long gone. Perhaps nostalgia, as far as an America is concerned that will never come back, and part inspiration - people see the squalor in those sociographic images and might draw inspiration from the thought that if the old folks did overcome all the hardships, they will too. Or just think: oh god, the world was a shitty place even in the Sixties, but at least they had Elvis and now Lady Gaga is all we get!

Anonymous said...

Yep, true. That is the same in France as well, for a long time now. A lot of nostalgia comes into people liking Bresson, Doisneau etc... There is very few interest for contemporary stuffs.

But maybe in a few decades our ugly all-clone "identified disturbing objects" cars will look hype on photo...