Vivian Maier – The Original Street Photographer and Godmother of Selfies

A selfie before they were invented (and shit)

A selfie before they were invented (and shit)

You should have seen the documentary on Miss Vivian Maier already, if not then do so and then you will be compelled to see the photography for yourself.

Vivian Maier was a curious character, very much a lady who pet herself to herself, a woman who looked after children as a job but according to different reports could be a rather cold character. Not a huge amount is known about Maier apart from the accounts of  the families she worked for, her secret life as the most prolific street photographer perhaps of all time has only just come to light.

Maier died in 2009 and until then her huge body of work went unseen, until it was bought as a job lot by one fellow who spent hours sifting through the many boxes and realising he had hit upon gold. The exhibition has been around the world and now finds itself in Berlin for a small but perfectly formed retrospective at Will-Brandt-Haus, it is on until 12th April and is free, this is one exhibition to make sure you include in your schedule.

Maier was a curious character but also supremely adept at capturing people out of pose, in their natural environment and while they were not playing up to the camera. The subtly and lighting in her shots create a beautiful depth and story to each shot. The fact that she did not develop any of them, or name them means that these stories are somewhat lost but that adds to the beauty of the exhibition, sometimes you can have too much information.

Maier’s shots span NYC, SF, Chicago plus her travels to France and the Far East, the majority are black and white with some more recent colour versions. Maier was also the true originator of the now much maligned ‘selfie’, but in her technique it looks cool, stripped down and not showy at all. I worded how it would have sat with her to know she was the original selfie dropper…..

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I Spy with my little eye…. Teufelsberg – Abandoned Berlin

IMG_8692

There are a million and one photos on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, various blogs and websites, so many that it is not an exaggeration to say this is Berlin’s very worst kept secret in the abandoned bracket. It is no secret. It is more of a secret that Kanye West has something on his mind than it is that this massively beautiful eyesore exists.

Since going to abandoned places in Berlin is pretty much in every guide and actually has become monetised fairly quickly, you can visit this one with zero issue. Basically send an email to these guys, then turn up and pay your Euros and then head in.

Teufelsberg Spy towers

Teufelsberg Spy towers

Little potted history, the website does it best so I’ll suggest you hit this jump to find out more…

In the beginning….

– 1915 – Bloody great big green space called Grunweld Forrest, lovely and calm, animals, walking, pretty etc.

– 1937 – That bloke Hitler, the one who was a total git, well he ignored the forrest contract from Prussian times and decided this would be a part of his master plan, he wanted this to be the gateway to his ‘New World Capital’. Basically a huge military technical facility, you can only imagine what the tiny tached one had planned.

– 1945 – Hitler gets defeated, but not before the building had started, but what to do with the partially build city….

– 1951 – Berlin had taken a bit of a flaying and there was an awful lot of rubble and debris that needed to be moved from Berlin city and burbs in order to regenerate. A solution was come up with, fill in the planned Hitler military buildings and pile the debris on top. They did so and it reached 115 metres, Basically a man made hill / mini mountain, the plan was for this to become a ski resort of sorts. That didn’t happen, as it the story of Berlin’s recent existence, things just don’t quite happen, maybe they tried to start work on a Monday.

-1963 – Instead of skiing the Americans and the Brits decided to use this as the perfect position to spy on our Ruskie brothers and sisters, to find out if they had any plans for world domination or the like brewing.

Then…. Well a company tried to turn it into a big hotel, that failed thankfully. Now it is owned privately and maintained for the general public to take their cameras to and look around.

Tour is nice, about an hour for 7 Euro with no information and 12 Euro for the more detailed version. You will get to go to the very top, where the views over the largely flat Berlin are spectacular, you can see all the way to the city and the iconic TV Tower is easily spotted on a good day. On top of this there will be a bunch of street artists adding to the array of paint you can shoot, and any budding graf artists can email to apply to paint there themselves, there is plenty of space so long as you don’t mind people shooting you doing it.

Closest station is SBahn Grunewald then you have a walk of about 25 minutes through a forrest.

Anish Kapoor – Turning on the water works

Swirling black hole

Swirling black hole

Anish Kapoor generally is a favourite in the sitting room of chez SF. Basically he does bloody great big sculptures which are beyond the means of mere mortals, both in terms of imagination and cold card cash.

Mesmeric

Mesmeric

Hi latest piece for Kochi-Muziris Biennale, it is called Descension and is a huge swirling water whirlpool on the floor in a gallery. It looks pretty epic and mesmeric and very Kapoor in a not very Kapoor kind of fashion. If you understand our slightly around the houses logic.

Here is a little video to show you it in all it’s glory… with some ill fitting music

When Kapoor creates these pieces we almost forgive him for the abomination at the London 2012 Olympic stadium…. almost but not quite