The Woman in the Mirror: A Personal Essay on Vivian Maier

It is 1953. Vivian Maier walks the streets of New York. As she passes an antique dealer, an old mirror catches her reflection and throws it back at her. With her Rolleiflex around her neck, she takes a moment to pause and permanently fix the image she sees on film. Holding the camera at waist height, she does not meet her own gaze in the mirror, glancing slightly upwards instead; timid, earnest, almost child-like. On this day, she is wearing a structured, oversized jacket and her hair is pinned neatly to one side. Behind her, a fire escape chases skywards. In a second mirror, titled slightly upwards, towering apartment blocks soar out of view. In this concrete jungle, Maier is small and alone.

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Review: Wes Anderson the Curator, Champion of the Quirky and the Overlooked

Kunsthistorische Museum Wien, Vienna | Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and other Treasures, Curated by Wes Anderson and Juman Malouf, 6 November 2018 – 28 April 2019

The Green Room

Snow blanketed the street. Christmas markets filled the squares. Glühwein perfumed the air. The backdrop was oddly well set for Wes Anderson to stage an exhibition in Vienna, the festive season bringing the same air of romance and nostalgia to the city as one of his movies. Two years in the making, Anderson and his partner Juman Malouf have curated an exhibition at the Kunsthistorische Museum titled Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and other Treasures. It’s part of a larger series at the museum that invites well-known creative people to curate an exhibition at the museum. Given access to over four million objects in their archives, the aim is to see if their unique eye can teach us new and unexpected things about the museum’s collection. Anderson is a clever choice: few people have such a particular vision of world (just look at the @accidentallywesanderson Instagram for proof). He also has a devotee fan base. Hours after hearing about the exhibition, I had booked my flights to Vienna. 

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Beyond Compare: The Bodes Museum Opens Its Arms to Africa, But Keeps Its Feet Firmly in Europe

The Bodes Museum, Berlin |Beyond Compare: Art from Africa in the Bode-Museum, 27 October 2017 – 24 November 2019

Entering a room full of Christian Gothic art, there stands a formidable Congolese spiritual idol. With his hands proudly on his hips and his feet rooted firmly on the ground, shards of metal protrude from his wide wooden chest. A symbol of protection, his huge porcelain eyes survey the space before him. In its original context, this ‘power figure’ would have kept watch over a local Congolese community but today his eyes fall upon something very different: Michel Erhart’s Virgin and Child, a protective votive from fifteenth century Germany. Caught eye-to-eye, these two protective statues meet for the first time across time and space. It’s an unexpected but welcome encounter in an otherwise traditional Western art museum.

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Transitory Moments, Eternal Images

The me Collector Rooms, Berlin |The Moment is Eternity – Works from the Olbricht Collection

How does a taxidermy giraffe help us to see photography in a new light? It’s a question that curator Annette Kicken challenges us to consider in her exhibition The Moment is Eternal at The me Collection Rooms in Mitte. Part of the European Month of Photography, the exhibition features over three-hundred photographs from the Olbritch collection.  The title comes from a poem by Goethe. It captures a romantic idea: each second is a tiny increment of eternity and photography has the unique power to preserve these transitory moments forever. By hanging photographs in thought-provoking clusters, Kicken encourages audiences to consider how the moment we see in a frame reflects more than the second it was taken. Continue reading “Transitory Moments, Eternal Images”