I photograph from the guts: I capture, then I exist. Vivian Maier and the crystal reflections

[ leer en español ]

To portray my reflection in the shop windows like a Vivian Maier without rest, click, click, click… And tell my story…

I photograph from the gut with the desire that the mirror confirms my existence. I see myself, I register, and so I exist. So I do not feel invisible, I encounter myself in the reflection of a crystal, of my shadow. It all merges with me, with all that dwells within me and in that portrait, even if it is only for a moment, I am more me than ever before. 

The city, its mundanity, the street awakening, its unguarded citizens, the noise in its most audible reality. I witness the urban turmoil, and it leaves me no remedy than to show its beauty, sometimes raw. What holds more beauty can also be hard. I am a hunter lurking for instants.

I remain silent, I do not resist, my stomach seems to be the one composing, placing focus and shooting. An impulse out of control; I live for it; it is what gives me sense. Will the hole without a bottom ever disappear? In that automatized movement I vanish, I give in to the camera, it dominates, controls and orders me. It brings me back to myself, turned into reflections. 

Spontaneous, a compulsive necessity to tell what seems to be only seen by me. It lightens me, but it also puts on weight. Time on my reflection seems to detain, it occupies. Only here, in this world of layers, one on top of another and intertwining, even if it seems contradictory, I find my place. You do not see me, but I see you. 

I capture you, so I exist. 

Till the 5th of November, the recently opened Gallery “Alta de Andorra de Pancho Saula” shows its selection of 14 pieces from the photographer Vivian Maier (1926-2009). A gallery flooded with light that spreads the passion for the images and initiates an adventure with an artist that knew how to document the 20th Century through the life that occurred in the streets of Chicago and New York from 1950 to 1980.

Maier worked as a nanny for 40 years developing her love for photography secretly. The discovery of her works in 2007, more than 100.000 negatives and films by the young historian John Maloof, makes us think that the history of photography is not closed. Maier captured with fresh naturality and great mastery in her compositions the faces of people she encountered on her daily path. Precursor of the selfie, she portrayed herself with her Rollieflex in the shop windows and mirrors that gave back her reflection.

She died in a retirement home and nobody knew that the older, reserved and former nanny was an accomplished photographer. To this day nobody knows how Maier taught herself photography. Her artistic formation is a mystery. Nobody would have imagined that her photographs would end up in exhibitions held by the most important museums from all over the world. Her work is now part of history next to other great figures of “Street Photography”, like Helen Levitt, Diane Arbus,  Lisette Model and Robert Frank.

Photography: Óscar Rivilla

Art direction: Óscar Rivilla and Carolina Verd

Translation: Covadonga López-Fanjul

Fashion: Looks from La Musaraña