Opening time:
Duration: 2021.04.12 -- 2021.06.30

Exhibition Preface

Finding Vivian Maier
The exhibition A Hidden Genius: Finding Vivian Maier, presented for the first time in China at the Today Art Museum, brings together 83 photographs and focuses exclusively on the theme of self-representation and self-portraiture.
This theme is probably the most fascinating, rich, and complex in the work of Vivian Maier. Her photographic language covers an extremely broad spectrum and her visual vocabulary ranges from the most elementary form of self-representation, which is the silhouette, to the physiognomic self-portrait in which we can recognize her face. The exhibition at the Today Art Museum takes up this range of forms and explores the different aspects of Vivian Maier's personality as well as the main categories of forms used to express this constant search for identity. If these images give Maier a claim to her presence, it is probably because she is invisible like so many others who share the same social condition. In the sixties, in the United States, the American Dream was in full swing. It is at its culmination in the American society in full economic, social, and political ascent.  America is the place of all possibilities, but not for those who are the downside of society: the workers, the forgotten, the marginalized who have no place in the American Dream. When Vivian Maier photographs herself, leaving only a barely perceptible clue in the image, or occupying the whole of it, she is merely stating an act of resistance to her condition. In the same way, the portraits she makes in the streets of New York or Chicago become in this sense variations of her own self-portraits. She only photographs people who look like her because they belong to this invisible fringe of society.
This exhibition shows the great textual diversity of Vivian Maier's language, which makes her singularity and contributes to making her mystery even more impenetrable. Her work is not only part of the history of photography, appearing alongside great icons such as Robert Frank, Henri Cartier Bresson or Robert Doisneau, but Vivian Maier is also considered to be the pioneer of what will become a great international viral phenomenon, which will be taken over by social networks and generated by the greatest crisis of identity: the selfies.
Anne Morin

Director’s Foreword
When Vivian Maier was first discovered, her photographic work inspired curiosity from the public, and sparked the reconstruction of her story from pieces. Those who are drawn by her story stay for the imagery, in awe of her misfortunes in life, and intrigued by the mystery of the maverick. The captivating narrative of this masterful street photographer surfaced in 2007. From 1950s to 1990s, she made over 100,000 negatives. Vivian Maier passed away in 2009 at the age of 83. Brought away with her were countless unanswered and fascinating questions.
The photography exhibition “A Hidden Genius: Finding Vivian Maier” presented at Today Art Museum, with 83 meticulously curated images, unveils this figure who documented life of the unprivileged, searched for the Self in shadows, and contemplated in mirrors. She acknowledged the values of individuals, showed solicitude toward the bottom of society and outsiders, passionate for politics and news, and consistently documented the common people of her times.
These works, depicting her image, are traces that lead to who she was as well. Furthermore, the mirrors in the self-portraits cast light on greater narratives of the rapidly developing American post-World War II metropolis, and masses who would have not been seen on film. Reflections on flat mirrors and irregular surfaces are reenactments of her personal exploration, filled with vitality and thoughts.
Reflections convey the ways of sight and thought. Comfort is sought through photography, in a spiritual world of mystery and solitude, and experiences are found in these greater moments and small delights. In an audio recording, Vivian commented that “We have to make room for other people. It’s a wheel – you get on, you go to the end, and someone else has the same opportunity to go to the end, and so on, and somebody else takes their place. There’s nothing new under the sun.”
Life is but a journey of passengers. Independent contemplations, keen observations, and insightful imagery are always precious in everyday life. Vivian was a lone genius, resonated by all, by you, and by me.
Jessica Zhang



vivian maier