… as long as the images are from Vivian Maier.
Actually it looks that the buzz around Vivian Maier shows how much most people’s conception of street photography seems to be frozen in black & white time, at a period around the late 50’s. This is one of the reason why I wrote this series of posts about Vivian Maier because as much premature as it is to do a serious analysis of the work, it seems to me obvious that Vivian Maier’s work is well rooted in its time and does not embrace the further evolution of the genre. Nothing wrong with that, and how could that be otherwise by the way. But street photography is little like jazz, or classical music for most people. There is a breaking point in time when you have to “get it” and it stops to remain a popular genre. Instead it is left to a handful of aficionados, and becomes more and more hermetic to others. That is just the way it is…
For that respect the recent discovery of Vivian Maier’s work offers an insight onto the gap that sets most contemporary street photographers apart from the main public. The irony of the situation is that Vivian Maier posthumous fame has its origin in the heart of the contemporary street photography ecosystem (it all started here), but finally I believe that as soon as the story really took off (beginning of this year) it has started to cause more prejudice to the genre than it does serve it.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the acknowledgment of Maier’s work, but we are in a singular time capsule sort-of situation here. And the people who like the work, those who usually don’t care much about the genre should ask themselves why and what they find is so much compelling therein. And those who feel there is some genuine merit in the photographs on their own right they should ask themselves how that could be transposed today. I mean: what is the fuel of all that ?
… there are lots of Vivian Maier out there today.