Longevity & Legacy Almanac 2014: The Phantom Camera.

Vivian Maier, 83

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“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…”

Long before Facebook, Instagram and today’s addictive “Selfie”’ there was the phantom camera of Vivian Maier. In 1952 with her Rolleiflex camera she began a five-decade journey as a street photographer while working as a nanny in New York and Chicago. She was an undercover witness, a “right in your face” voyeur, who captured thousands of faces, the drifting lives of urban pilgrims.

Finding Vivian Maier, the 2013 documentary produced by John Maloof & Charlie Siskel is a transformative experience. There are too many incredible adjectives to describe this virtually unknown woman. Let the Vivian Maier web site do that for you.

Vivian also traveled the world for some years and died in 2009 almost a mystery; but one might best say, her journal of over 100,000 photographs beautifully unfolds that mystery as mastery – she sought to document the nature of the human condition, much like Dickens did with the fictional characters in his novels.

What was the thread in her story that contributed to her longevity? A relentless, compulsive curiosity in who are we? Captivating story! Her eye was her camera. How a city block could make her a spy on the concept of person. Her photographic magnum opus is not just her legacy. It is ours.

 

 

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