Thursday, 31 July 2014

Interpreting Vivian Maier

With John Maloof's documentary 'Finding Vivian Maier' currently in the cinemas, you might be interested to know that the BBC broadcast their own documentary on the nanny/photographer last year and it is available on Box of Broadcasts: Vivian Maier - Who Took Nanny's Pictures?.  The trailer is above.

I watched both yesterday, and it is interesting to note the differences.

Maloof chose not to appear in the BBC's documentary because he was making his own film. Instead, they interview Ron Slattery, who owns about 2000 prints and negatives, and who is not in Maloof's film, and Jeff Goldstein, who is also not in the Maloof film, and who bought his collection from Randy Prow - one of three primary buyers, who bought the collection when Maier’s possessions came up for sale.

While the Maloof documentary focuses on his own central role in bringing the photographer’s work to light, the BBC show highlights the other actors - taking a closer look at what was bought by whom, and for how much, and when. We hear, for example, from auctioneer Roger Gunderson, who bought the contents of her lockers for $250 dollars - bidding from the door of the lockers for the contents, in a sort of lucky dip. We also hear from Ron Slattery, who seems to suggest that Maloof only began to understand the significance of his find, when contacted by Allan Sekula. And we hear from Jeff Goldstein, who describes how he is happy that his own purchases was ‘at one remove from all that stuff’ (by which he means the first few auctions).

By far the most authoritative voice in both documentaries is Joel Meyerowitz, who attests to Maier’s strength as a photographer, but also (in the BBC documentary anyway) to his concern that, “we’re only seeing pictures that the people who bought the suitcases decided to edit, and what sort of editors are they?” That, I imagine, is going to remain a pertinent question, as more of this intriguing photographer’s work comes to light.

Vivian Maier - who took nanny’s pictures? is repeated next Tuesday on BBC1 at 11:05PM and is available on Box of Broadcasts.

Further Reading

Paul Gallagher & Rob Hastings, The Vivian Maier “Discovery” Is More Complicated Than We Thought, The Independent, Friday 18 July 2014

Thames & Hudson - Autumn titles

Thames & Hudson are the publisher of many fine books in the visual arts, and we have many of their previous titles relating to photography.  Their forthcoming titles for the Autumn include four glossy surveys, and some interesting reprints.  The surveys include one title on landscape photography, one on emerging fashion photographers, one on photographers' sketchbooks, and one on key 'photoshows.' 

Thames & Hudson are based in London, and have a shop opposite the Royal Academy on Picadilly.

Grierson 2014: the British Documentary Awards - shortlist

The short-listed titles for the British Documentary Awards have just been announced.  Eight films are shortlisted in eleven categories.  See all the short-listed titles here

Most of these are available on Box of Broadcasts.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Art Full Text Top Ten

Use of Art Full Text is going down and we're not sure why.  The number of downloads in 2013 is now half of what is was in 2009.  It has seen a steady decline from 2010, but the major drop came in 2010, with the introduction to Library Search.

Library Search was a step forward in terms of searching for books, and for many subjects it works very well for journal articles.  However, magazine content - which is a strength of Art Full Text - is virtually omitted altogether.  Some big magazines, such as Aperture, and Sight and Sound will appear in an articles search, but many titles will not, so this content is often not visible to students.  The same is true for Google Scholar, which for many students is becoming a primary research tool. 

How do we get students to use databases like Art Full Text, and FIAF Index to Film Periodicals?  It is necessary for them to do so?  I don't know the answer!

The most used titles on Art Full Text in 2013 were as follows:

Art Monthly
Art Press
Studies in Literary Imagination
Art Review
Architects Journal