If you thought Felix and Oscar were an odd couple, try Viv and Hans.
As a long-time Rev attendee I sometimes see patterns and recurring themes in the programme. It’s quite likely that these patterns exist nowhere outside my own head. Nevertheless I can’t help saying this one reminds me of that one. Finding Vivian Maier brought to mind In the Realms of the Unreal, which screened at Revelation about ten years ago. In the Realms was an exploration of the life and works of Henry Darger, a recluse who devoted his private hours to a fantasy tale that ran for more than 15,000 pages. Darger is sometimes described as an outsider artist – a title which also suits Maier. Their lives have unusual parallels. Darger was a janitor in a hospital; Maier worked for most of her life as a nanny and a housekeeper. Both were posthumously discovered almost by accident as artists with a unique eye; they were also both obsessive hoarders with scratchy personalities. And while it’s just coincidence, it does bring on the Twilight Zone music to observe that Darger named the heroines of his huge story… The Vivian Girls.
Maier almost lived long enough to receive the recognition she deserved. She was still alive when John Maloof bought a box of her negatives at auction in 2007. But Maloof had very few clues about her identity, and in the end his search ended in 2009 with Vivian’s death notice.
Vivian Maier’s photos are now available at vivianmaier.com. Here’s a selection of Vivian’s photos, accompanied by a narration by a fictional Vivian.
In terms of his vision, Hans Rudi Giger was the outsider artist without equal. His early work was so far from the mainstream that galleries had to wipe the spit of disgusted passersby from their windows. Then a movie called Alien happened, and the outcast became the admired visionary.
Giger was admired for his unique vision and, I would venture, for his courage in putting it on canvas for all the human race to see. Giger’s work came from a dimension where the organic and the mechanical blended, with results that were both alluring and repellent.
Dark Star spends a lot of time with Giger in his home. He was clearly not well during the filming, hobbling around most of the time with the help of a cane. This house seems to be deep in a forest, until the camera pulls back and shows a modern metropolis surrounding it on all sides. Many of Giger’s friends and business partners are interviewed. There is footage of an old interview with Giger’s parents too. Though they appear stereotypical European bourgeois, middle-class and conservative, they speak of their son with immense pride. Hans Ruedi was anything but the black sheep of the family.
And by the way – it’s Gee-ger, not Geye-ger.