Miranda July is endlessly interesting. She writes, and makes films and multimedia art. Sometimes she acts. But for that pedestrian description to have any bearing you need to look at her work. If you’ve dismissed July on the grounds of quirky, hip, and cute, I hear you. I don’t like anything that wears those labels. I think her work rises above those things.
An article in the New York Times writes of July: ‘It’s odd that she has come to represent, for some, a kind of soulless hipster cool, because in July’s work, nobody is cool. There’s no irony to it, no insider wink. Her characters are ordinary people whose lives don’t normally invite investigation. So her project is the opposite of hipster exclusion: her work is desperate to bring people together, forcing them into a kind of fellow feeling. She’s unrelentingly sincere, and maybe that sincerity makes her difficult to bear. It also might make her culturally essential.’
I’m going with that interpretation. Anyway, she was born in Berkeley and her parents were publishers of alternative health and spiritual books, so it’s not entirely her fault.
Miranda July writes odd, fun stories. I suggest you start with It Chooses You (2011), which is an amalgam of interviews, snatches of her personal life, and fiction (if the rest isn’t fiction…). You can read an extract from the book at the New Yorker. She’s also written for the New Yorker, Paris Review and Harper’s. And McSweeny’s, of course.
She made a short film about procrastination called A Handy Tip for the Easily Distracted, which is the best form of procrastinating ever. Her most recent feature film is called The Future (2011). She wrote it, stars in it, and directed it. But most people know her from her first film, You Me and Everyone We Know (2005).
Her art is in everything she does, from her website Learning to Love You More (a seven-year project which asked more than 8000 people to submit work in response to assignments like Take a Picture of Your Parents Kissing) to her interactive sculpture garden Eleven Heavy Things. She has also released several albums of music.
All of this is to introduce you to her latest project, which I came upon by happenstance last week. It’s called We Think Alone. Sign up and you’ll receive emails from the sent boxes of some of July’s friends, including Kirsten Dunst and Sheila Heti. The project starts on 1 July, runs to 11 November, was commissioned by Magasin 3 in Stockholm, and exists only in your inbox.
I’ve signed up to We Think Alone because I’m curious. Let me know if you sign up, too.