Vivian Maier Street Photographer at Willy Brandt Haus

The allusive street photographer Vivian Maier, whose rise to super star status in the world of photography came just in the last few years, is currently on exhibit at the Willy Brandt Haus in Kreuzberg.

You only have 4 days left to see this exhibition – I highly suggest you do so. Admission is FREE.

For the first time since moving to Berlin, I left a pure photographic exhibition feeling fully satisfied and inspired. Although Berlin has a reputation for having a hip art scene, I personally have found it lacking in excitement. This opinion of mine is something I will likely need to explore further in another article. So for now, let me say that the curator of this exhibition has done a wonderful job putting together a series of images that give an extremely well rounded feeling for Maier’s eye. In particular her incredibly brilliant self-portraits, many of which I hadn’t seen before are on view. Vivian is truly gifted and it would be difficult to see this exhibition without recognizing her unique way of recording both her inner and outer vision.

I could attempt to give you some history regarding Ms. Maier and her photography, but I think this is best left to a number of other resources. Firstly, I suggest you watch both documentaries regarding her life; ‘Finding Vivian Maier’ and the BBC Documentary from the Imagine Series, ‘Vivian Maier’ (both 2013). They examine her life and work in quite unique ways. I found both worthy of my time (don’t watch them back to back, I ended up with Maier overload), pick one & then jump on over to the Willy Brandt Haus to see this exhibition.

Her story is absolutely intriguing. As a photographer myself I find it difficult to imagine never caring if my work was ever seen. I consider exhibiting my work a part of the process of being an artist. It’s obvious that Vivian is a unique being. She seems so very in her head and her work carries a kind of weight, the weight of intelligence, critical thought, sadness, and anger, yet also an incredible sense of humor. One of my favorite things about Vivian’s work is that even in her darkest images, some wondrous humor shines through.

I know they say this about art and artists, but with Vivian it is so very true, because within her work is a mystery and in her death and the story of her work’s discovery even doubly so. And there it is, quoted at the beginning of the BBC Documentary, "stars are the souls of dead poets, but to become a star, you have to die.” - Van Gogh

Of course how Vivian’s work was discovered is a huge part of the intrigue, but there is no doubt in my mind that she would have been a super star in the world of photography regardless. Her work carries something timeless and yet is such a picture of the time in which she lived, to do this, to pull this off…it’s a true gift. She makes me look at my own work and want to be something more, something epic.

One of my favorite quotes about photography is from Diane Arbus, “A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.”  Vivian Maier’s work is one of the first times I have ever felt this quote come to life, there is so much going on beyond the frame, you cannot look at the work without imagining the life of Vivian, how she lived so much in her own head and yet, likely found sanity through her camera.

On exhibit now with extended hours due to popular demand, Vivian Maier Street Photographer at Willy Brandt Haus through April 12th.

Thursday-Friday 12-18:00
Saturday-Sunday 12-20:00 (Extended hours due to Popular Demand)

Photographs and text by Linka A Odom 
You can find Linka on IG, EyeEm, Twitter, & FB @themissinglinka

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