Saturday, February 22, 2014

Unsung Artists

Overheard at Flying Elephants downtown yesterday while I grab lunch, the convo of an elderly man and woman:
He: “Oh you’re an artist? What’s your medium?”
She: “Photo-based. Collage, actually, but I use photos….”
(My ears perk up.)
“Oh well have you seen this film about the woman photographer? You need to see this film.” (He names the film, which I will get to in a minute.) “Yes she made thousands of photos and they were really great but no one knew and she never really told anyone but now it’s all coming out and it’s really an amazing story and you need to see this and blah blah blah, let me mansplain a little further.”
I had to get to move to another table, I was so ready to do an intervention.
Let me count the ways:
A woman artist making all kinds of work in the friggin’ 1940s, 50s, 60s, etc and no one knowing and her never telling is not all that uncommon. Right, everyone was ready to believe she was The Genius.
Any artist, male or female, who devoted a lifetime to a creative act which will never make a dime nor win an award but then becomes a story and a career for a journalist – once again, not unheard of. There’s this idea that we can always spot quality and that it bubbles to the surface but I say hogwash.
But what bothered me the most was that this dude didn’t even know this woman, didn’t know her work at all but he’s already telling her what she absolutely needs to see. He may indeed be mansplaining a situation she already knows way too well!

The film: Finding Vivian Maier.

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