Photography Exhibition

Vivian Maier, a Chicago nanny, took these pictures, so eloquently, anonymously, all through midcentury, leaving thousands of images unseen by anyone else while she was alive, discovered only later in a storage locker, sold at auction, and now displayed in an elite gallery. Fleeting eyes catch her art in passing, just as she caught the spirit of the city, click after click with exquisite timing, a face, two faces, a row of faces frozen in the heat of their shared humanity — such a frayed word after so much abuse but strangely beautiful with age, with wise tiredness after such years, such ages of solitude, like hers whose empathy mirrors them, her face reflected in shop windows holding her Rolleiflex waist high where it finds somehow the angle of soul in her acutely attuned eyes. As I resume my walkings I can almost begin to see the way the streets reach ever deeper into simple drama, so fraught, of every day and night—the lovers reunited over wine, a ghost of a chance flickering in the table’s candle, chance of their ever having met, what a miracle, much less maintained their oneness. Was all this caught in those photos, her compassion for their passion, even if her own was never gratified? This French red begins to move my musings into a sphere not seen in the pictures, a zone of foreign emotion that feels impossibly real after barely a day on this island where white guys wearing black hats play tenor saxophones in dark basements to accompany old Romantics left to their own mnemonic devices whereby they remember everything lost and held always in the same breath, so many nights and mornings in the arms of her without whose wholly delivered heart its inspiration would be infinitely less. These thoughts are recorded in homage to one who saw the city in all its suffering glory, even its sidewalks, its buildings, its reaching bridges suffused with longing.

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