You can't hide, Vivian: A Rumination

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<ul><li><p>8/6/2019 You can't hide, Vivian: A Rumination</p><p> 1/15</p><p>You cant hide, Vivian:</p><p>A Ruminationby</p><p>JW Rogers</p><p></p><p>Clipper Press</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 You can't hide, Vivian: A Rumination</p><p> 2/15</p><p>She never showed her photos to anyone</p><p>She was eccentric, strong, heavily opinionated,highly intellectual, and intensely private. She</p><p>wore a floppy hat, a long dress, wool coat, and</p><p>mens shoes and walked with a powerful stride.</p><p>With a camera around her neck whenever she</p><p>left the house, she would obsessively take</p><p>pictures, but never showed her photos to</p><p>anyone.</p><p>www.drmstream.com2</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 You can't hide, Vivian: A Rumination</p><p> 3/15</p><p>Five photos a day for 50 yearsTake a second to imagine taking 5 photographs a day for 50 years.</p><p>After 18,250 days, you would have more than 100,000 photographs.</p><p>You would have stepped out of the flow, peered through your viewfinderand captured a single moment more than 100,000 different times.</p><p>www.drmstream.com3</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 You can't hide, Vivian: A Rumination</p><p> 4/15</p><p>What else will you have out of intention, outside of the flow, more than100,000 times? Probably nothing. That becomes the mark of your life,that moment of intention and its outcome, and then the next moment of</p><p>intention, and it's outcome.</p><p>When does it cross from from passion to obsession to mania? When doesit become art?</p><p>It doesn't matter.</p><p>www.drmstream.com4</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 You can't hide, Vivian: A Rumination</p><p> 5/15</p><p>You were cruel, Vivian</p><p>That was a mean choice, giving her the mirror, pointing the camera pasther fleshy arm.</p><p>You aren't being ambiguous. You don't like looking at her but you wantto photograph her. She's a Gorgon, her hair is filled with snakes and if</p><p>we look her in the eyes we freeze to stone.</p><p>You say the privilege of art is to be cruel? That you bear witness to what</p><p>you see, that your camera can't lie, that you had to follow your passion?</p><p>www.drmstream.com5</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 You can't hide, Vivian: A Rumination</p><p> 6/15</p><p>That's hard to answer. When I look at this photograph, I flinch and wantto look away. Something that you did doesn't work. I can't put my fingeron it. I know that there's something gratuitous. You were cruel here,</p><p>Vivian, and I can't tell whether you meant to be or not.</p><p>www.drmstream.com6</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 You can't hide, Vivian: A Rumination</p><p> 7/15</p><p>www.drmstream.com7</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 You can't hide, Vivian: A Rumination</p><p> 8/15</p><p>I see the fat girl gazing into the future</p><p>When I was a boy, my mother would tell me that she had been a fat girl.</p><p>I didn't know what to make of it. She wasn't fat when she said it, andeven when she would complain that she was fat, I'd think to myself thatshe was small and slim and different from all the other moms. She wasexotic, was an artist, had taken ballet classes, could have been someonedifferent if she wasn't who she was now.</p><p>www.drmstream.com8</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 You can't hide, Vivian: A Rumination</p><p> 9/15</p><p>That memory, however, becomes an indelible part of how I experiencethis photo.</p><p>A photograph creates its own assertion when we look at it, leaves its flatdimensions and infiltrates our imagination in a insidious and sinuous</p><p>way. The realism of photography deceives us into believing that we arelooking at a representation of a singular moment. But it is the</p><p>photograph's absolute lack of dimension that lures us into providing ourown context and assumptions.</p><p>That truth about our perception puts the photographer in an ambiguous</p><p>moral position. More than any other visual artist, the photographer hasincorporate the mistakes of perception that the viewer may make into herdistinct intent.</p><p>When I look at this photo, I see a fat, unkempt and awkward girl. Herstare is hurt and suspicious. I think that she's sly. The holes in her shirtmake me think that her family is on hard times, or they don't care about</p><p>what the girl looks like.</p><p>But I see something else in this photo, because of what the stories mymother told me.</p><p>I see a pretty woman with a sense of style, caught in a quiet moment,gazing up the street. Her eyes have the same stare they did when she wassmall.</p><p>Vivian Maier captured both those moments.</p><p>www.drmstream.com9</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 You can't hide, Vivian: A Rumination</p><p> 10/15</p><p>A pile of wood crates</p><p>We aren't meant to ever witness lives in their totality. The long viewsmooths out the highs, fills in the lows, and reduces every effort to themean. We come face to face with the overwhelming scale of existence,the futility of passion, the inconsequence of our work. We might call it</p><p>beautiful, but it's a terrifying beauty.</p><p>www.drmstream.com10</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 You can't hide, Vivian: A Rumination</p><p> 11/15</p><p>The life work of Vivian Maier raises these questions of what it all means,what's the worth of doing whatever we think we do that has meaning.</p><p>Vivian Maier was a nanny. She was a photography enthusiast. For 50years, she snapped photo after photo and when she was done, she hadmore than 100,000 negatives, most of them portraits of people sheencountered on the street.</p><p>Only a fraction of the photos were ever printed. She never showed thephotos to anyone.</p><p>She collected other things -- scores of newspaper articles that she cut outand pasted into binders. Paper artifacts of this and that. Letters shewrote and written to her.</p><p>And by the end of her life, all of this work was boxed up and put away inself-store bins. When she got sick and stopped paying the monthly rent,all of the bins were auctioned off.</p><p>Do you know how that works? A notice goes out that the container of BinXXX will be auctioned at 9am on Thursday morning for cash. A smallcrowd gathers. The door is rolled up. The contents are inspected</p><p>visually. Bids are made blind. If you win, you have to cart the contentsout or start paying rent new.</p><p>One morning, when the door was raised on Maier's container bin, thepeople gathered around saw boxes stacked on boxes, filled with scoresand scores of negatives.</p><p>A fitting metaphor for the artist's folly, the ultimate inconsequence ofcreating, of trying to find permanence in our life?</p><p>I don't think so.</p><p>I think Vivian Maier's life may have been worthy of envy.</p><p>www.drmstream.com11</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 You can't hide, Vivian: A Rumination</p><p> 12/15</p><p>She had work to do and she did it unencumbered. A desire to capturewhat she saw, to make sense out of the patterns in life, to look again andsee, was fulfilled. She found a vocation. The dialogue she had was</p><p>personal and constant.</p><p>As I browsed through the photographs that her inadvertent archivist --whose personal story of discovery and obsession is more quixotic anddramatic than Maier's -- I found myself mulling over a simple photo of a</p><p>pile of wood crates. This image provide a metaphor for what this womanexperienced, I thought. In the repetition of similar things over a long</p><p>period of time, she found the miracle of life, the center weight and the</p><p>exciting variety.</p><p>Life is a sequence ofslightly varying circumstance; the richness comesfrom holding your position and tracking the change. If we let go of theneed to force the pattern on the events and instead let the events form the</p><p>pattern, or not, as our own circumstance may be, we can imbue our lifewith the meaning that grows from melding our watching and our doinginto something utterly new.</p><p>www.drmstream.com12</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 You can't hide, Vivian: A Rumination</p><p> 13/15</p><p>You cant hide, Vivian</p><p>You worked hard to keep us from seeing you straight on, didn't you?</p><p>That was difficult, I imagine, when you walked through your day with acamera around your neck.</p><p>No, you put yourself on the other side. The other side of what,that's whatI wonder.</p><p>Was it the other side of life altogether? You didn't have your own child,but you cared for the children of others. You ever really had your own</p><p>www.drmstream.com13</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 You can't hide, Vivian: A Rumination</p><p> 14/15</p><p>place. Maybe you didn't want to be on this side of life, the messy, screwy,unpredictable part of life.</p><p>I know you can't answer, and even if you could, you might be offended atthe question, or, even more likely, not quite clear on why I'masking.</p><p>Why does it matter and who am I to speculate?</p><p>But you can't hide, Vivian. Who you are peeks through. And yourreflection shows up.</p><p>You hardly ever shot yourself head on, full face, and when you did you are</p><p>expressionless. You're not giving us anything directly. You do give usyour reflection, though, the shots that you take of yourself in shopwindow mirrors, or reflected in a chrome-plated trim, or your distinctiveoutline in shadow, your hat tilted down.</p><p>That let's us know where you are, right beside us, looking out. Your lensis like a finger pointing to this and that sight, showing us the things that</p><p>you know are worth noting.</p><p>It's what you show us that draws you out of hiding, Vivian. You show usthe life around us. The people are commonplace, the rough woman who</p><p>walks around the block, the children playing in the shadow of the alley,the old men and women moving slowly down the street. You show themto us in their exceptional simplicity, their unexceptional uniqueness.</p><p>That's how I know who you were, Vivian.</p><p>I just want to ask you one thing, if you'll let me.</p><p>What did it feel like to stay on the outside? Were you content there?Were you complete?</p><p>I know that you had to stay at a remove. That is the only way to see whatyou needed to see. But when I was young and starting out as a writer, thatremove tormented me. How could I write about life if I wasn't inside life?</p><p>But how could I see what I needed to see if I got into life that way?</p><p>www.drmstream.com14</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 You can't hide, Vivian: A Rumination</p><p> 15/15</p><p>I respect you for what you did, you know. Someone else might wonder atthe emptiness. I know that you wanted to see everything. Your photostell me that you did.</p><p>ivian Maier took more than 100,000 photographs over</p><p>five decades. Her work was unknown during her</p><p>lifetime. You can learn more about this American</p><p>original and view selections of her photos at the</p><p></p><p>www.drmstream.com15</p></li></ul>