Previously at the ICA - Films
18 Jul 2014 – 7 Sep 2014
★★★★★ 'Wow. What a documentary. Cancel your planned trip to every other film'.
- Nigel Andrew, FT
When John Maloof, a collector and amateur historian, bought a a few boxes of photographic materials at a garage sale in suburban Chicago, little did he know that he would be unearthing the work of a tenacious and unheard of street photographer that could hold her own alongside the likes of Diane Arbus or Robert Frank. Becoming intrigued by the work and its maker, Maloof set out to find as much as he could about the mysterious "Vivian Maier” who had scribbled her name on various bits of paper in the growing archive of photographs Maloof continued to collect.
Learning of her death by chance (just two years after he had discovered her work) he and his co-director decided to record their quest to find out about the woman behind the vast body of documentary photographs and meticulously edited Super 8 films that they found, resulting in this film.
Maier's work is an eye turned onto the unseen: grubby and defiant children, drunken and depressed street performers, the smug self-satisfaction of the rich dethroned by an unsolicited snap and—most tellingly—a body of self portraits that had never been publicly shared. Maloof and Siskel's film charts their journey to collect her work, to archive it, to get it seen. Along the way at the centre of it all is a big question posed by the filmmakers and everyone who knew her - why would an artist work as a nanny? Why would an artist hide her work? Hide herself? Who was this woman?
Special Event: Wed 23 July, 6.30pm
Following the screening of Finding Vivian Maier on 23 July, I am Dora curator Jemma Desai and photographer Rasha Kahil present a rigorous reading of the film. They will explore the perceived contradiction represented by Maier's public life and her private one and how that perceived contradiction is particularly problematised by her being a woman. Is the problem to be solved Vivian Maier, or in fact the impulse to solve her? What does it mean to be unearthing the secrets of a deeply secretive woman? Is her private life less private because of her talents as a photographer? Can a photographer ever truly be anonymous?
About I am Dora
I am Dora is a curatorial project founded by Jemma Desai, encompassing a screening series and collaborative initiatives which examine the ways in which women identify with one another through the medium of film, and how this process shapes female identity.
Each event and initiative has a strong visual aesthetic – the result of a collaboration between Jemma Desai and Claire Huss – including a printed publication which aims to encourage a more subjective engagement with film and film theory.
Jemma Desai works at various international film festivals as a curator, producer, and writer. She is the founder of I am Dora. Claire Huss is a French art director and graphic designer based in London. She is in charge of the art direction and graphic design of I am Dora publications and promotional material.
Rasha Kahil (born 1980) is a visual artist living and working in London, originally from Beirut, Lebanon. She completed an MA in Communication Art & Design at the Royal College of Art, London, in 2009. Her projects take the form of photography, text, video and installation. She has exhibited solo and in group shows and art fairs internationally, including in London, Paris, Istanbul, Zurich, Taipei and Beirut.
Finding Vivian Maier, dirs. John Maloof and Charlie Siskel, USA 2013, 83 mins
The ICA Cinema is now completely ad-free. Please note the feature will start following a selection of trailers and information relevant to the ICA programme. All films are 18+ unless otherwise stated.