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Why take hundreds of thousands of photographs for no one else to see?

From the '50s to the '80s, Vivian Maier and her ever-present Rolleiflex camera captured astonishing images of street life: grizzled men proud like pharaohs; well-dressed women gazing under their hats; children trying desperately not to cry. They're pictures that seem both like candid moments and deliberate provocations, and they've turned Maier into one of the world's most celebrated street photographers.

But we might never have seen these images except for one man with self-confessed obsessive tendencies, John Maloof, stumbling across a box of her negatives. Now he co-directs the doco Finding Vivian Maier, showing how he collected everything he could of Maier's – negatives, prints, film reels, audio tapes, newspaper clippings – and trying to get her work seen as it never was while she was alive.

Finding Vivian Maier is as much a detective story than an artistic appreciation, though. We discover she worked mainly as a nanny, wore shapeless, out-of-date clothing, and had an odd maybe-French-maybe-not accent. She was eccentric, uncompromising, and perhaps deeply damaged. The more this fascinating doco reveals, the more mysterious Maier seems. Why take these photographs just to squirrel them away? Would she have ever wanted the world to see them?

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By Martyn Pedler   |  

Finding Vivian Maier screening video

Finding Vivian Maier screening details

Federation Square
Cnr Swanston & Flinders Sts, Melbourne 3000

Telephone 03 8663 2583

Nearby Stations: Flinders Street

Price $15.00 to $20.00

Date Thu 23 Oct 2014

Open Thu 7pm; Sat & Thu Oct 23 5.30pm

Director: John Maloof and Charlie Siskel

ACMI - Australian Centre for the Moving Image map

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