By Miranda July with Jay Benedicto for SZ-Magazin Edition 46
Graphic Design by Chris Svensson
Thank you Jamie Dornan
Limited Edition book sculpture with MACK BOOKS
Miranda July is a filmmaker, artist, and writer. Her most recent book is The First Bad Man, a novel. July’s collection of stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You, won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and has been published in twenty-three countries. Her writing has appeared in The Paris Review, Harper’s, and The New Yorker; It Chooses You was her first book of non-fiction. She wrote, directed and starred in The Future and Me and You and Everyone We Know — winner of the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and a Special Jury Prize at Sundance, and re-released by The Criterion Collection in 2020. July’s participatory art works include the website Learning to Love You More (with artist Harrell Fletcher), Eleven Heavy Things (a sculpture garden created for the 2009 Venice Biennale), New Society (a performance), and Somebody (a messaging app created with Miu Miu.) She made an interfaith charity shop in Selfridges department store in London, presented by Artangel. A book of all her work to date was published by Prestel in April 2020. In Fall 2020 she debuted her third feature film, Kajillionaire. Raised in Berkeley, California, July lives in Los Angeles.
Please join Miranda’s mailing list for infrequent emails about upcoming projects.
PO Box 26596
Los Angeles, CA 90026
For information about screening MJ’s short movies: info-at-vdb.org
For film and talent requests, contact:
Ilene Feldman Management
For all other inquiries: secretary-at-mirandajuly.com
By Miranda July with Jay Benedicto for SZ-Magazin Edition 46
Graphic Design by Chris Svensson
Thank you Jamie Dornan
Limited Edition book sculpture with MACK BOOKS
Con artists Theresa (Debra Winger) and Robert (Richard Jenkins) have spent 26 years training their only daughter, Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood), to swindle, scam, and steal at every opportunity. During a desperate, hastily conceived heist, they charm a kind stranger, Melanie (Gina Rodriguez), into joining their next scheme, completely shaking up Old Dolio’s routine. Her unlikely connection with Melanie begins to challenge Old Dolio’s odd and stoic reality—and she finds herself suddenly caught between the only family she has ever known and the prospect of total freedom.
Written and directed by Miranda July; director of photography, Sebastian Winterø; edited by Jennifer Vecchiarello; music by Emile Mosseri; production design by Sam Lisenco; costumes by Jennifer Johnson; casting by Mark Bennett; produced by Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Youree Henley.A Plan B / Annapurna Production. Distributed by Focus Features in the U.S. and Universal Pictures internationally.
“Filmmaker. Author. Performer. Shopkeeper. Miranda July — the most impressive cross-disciplinary artist of her generation — is brought into focus in this career-spanning retrospective.
By Miranda July with Oumarou Idrissa, commissioned for “The Future Starts Here” exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Four velvet curtains open and close sporadically, of their own accord. A short text by July hangs alongside each curtain:
On 22 August 2015 I called for an Uber, and a man named Oumarou Idrissa picked me up from my house in Los Angeles. He drove me to Malibu in a black SUV. On the long drive across the city, Oumarou told me the story of his life, which began in a village in Niger, West Africa. He came to the U.S. on a student visa, hoping to attend the University of Idaho. When he couldn’t afford the tuition, he faced the possibility of deportation and was forced into hiding. He needed to stay in America; his family was counting on the money he could make there. During the worst of these years he was often homeless, which he kept secret. And he always knew that immigration agents were looking for him. He woke up every two hours, thinking: ‘They’re here’. Now Oumarou is a U.S. citizen – but he still can’t sleep more than two hours at a time and never more than a total of four or five hours a night.
For this project, I asked Oumarou if he would share his insomnia in real time and he agreed, hoping that telling his story of sleeplessness might actually bring him the peace he needs to finally sleep. We installed a sleep tracker program in his bed, and he began routing his phone data through a custom server that silently detects which apps he’s using, since he usually looks at his phone during these restless hours. When it’s midnight for Oumarou, the day is just starting in Niger and also here, in London. As he generates information throughout the night, it’s sent to the curtains in the exhibition.
1. When the blue curtains are completely closed, Oumarou is asleep on his queen-sized mattress on the floor of his studio apartment in Los Angeles. If the curtains are partially open or moving, then he’s sleeping fitfully. His sleep data triggers this movement via a smart curtain track powered by a Somfy® motor. Sometimes he dreams of someone pushing down on him so he can’t move or get up. Sometimes he dreams he’s in Niger, talking to his mother about ordinary things. If the curtains are wide open, then he’s awake.
2. Each time the brown curtains open, Oumarou has opened WhatsApp – the free, secure, worldwide messaging service. Every night around 11pm he begins to talk and message with his friends and family in Niger. ‘I don’t have any close friends in America’, he told me, ‘so my phone is my everything’. He exchanges videos and pictures with his 21 sisters and brothers and responds to requests for money, most often to pay for food, school tuitions, christenings and medicine. He used to talk to his mum every night, but she passed away two years ago. Just before she died, Oumarou texted to tell me she was sick. We had sporadically kept in touch after our long drive together. Just a few hours later he texted me that she had died, and he was headed back to Niger for her funeral.
3. If the pink curtains are open, Oumarou has tapped ‘online’ on the Uber app, making himself available to receive calls for rides. Like most UberBLACK drivers, he leases a black SUV and often barely makes enough money to cover the cost of the lease. At times he has also lived in his leased cars, as many UberBLACK drivers do. ‘When you sleep in a new SUV you wake up sick from the fumes’, Oumarou told me. We met up when he got back from his mother’s funeral in Niger. He was frustrated that he had lost his place to live while he was out of the country. I rent a small house where I work from 9am to 5pm, so I suggested he live in it from 5pm to 9am until he got a new place. We shared the house in this way for seven months.
4. When the green curtains are open, Oumarou is looking at Instagram. He posts pictures of soccer games, family, luxury hotels and beaches (from his side job as a travelling bodyguard). On 8 November 2016, he posted a video of himself voting for Hillary Clinton: I vote for Her. First time voter, historic day. Since we were registered to the same address, I showed him our polling place and we voted together. On 9 November, he wrote: The way I feel last nite was the worst feeling I ever have in my life. We love you Hillary this pain will go forever. Later that day he wrote: Motherland we coming back, and I wondered if he really would go back to Niger. On 10 November he posted a video of himself in the black suit he wears to drive for Uber; he was standing tall by a rooftop pool in Beverly Hills. I’m the president, baby, he said. And then, speaking as the president, he told us to: Stay focused, stay humble, you know, be positive in life, enjoy, life is beautiful, baby.
Note: If Oumarou is sick, travelling, or needs privacy, this work runs on a pre-recorded script.
There are more than 10,000 charity shops in the UK and now there is a unique addition with the launch of artist, writer and filmmaker Miranda July ’s major commission for Artangel, an interfaith charity shop open to the public from 31 August – 22 October 2017 on the third floor of Selfridges.
The UK’s first interfaith charity shop is run and staffed jointly by four religious charities chosen by Miranda July: Islamic Relief, Jewish charity Norwood, London Buddhist Centre and Spitalfields Crypt Trust. The proceeds will be shared equally between the four partners, all of who run their own charity shops. Items for sale are typical of those traditionally sold in charity shops – second – hand clothes, books, games, DVD’s, kitchen ware, toys ornaments and bric – a – brac. Prices are the same as in any charity shop.
Net sales are divided equally between the four participating charity shops. Each is donating 2.5% of their share to another charity of their choice: Islamic Relief is donating to The Bike Project; Norwood to Carers in Hertfordshire; London Buddhist Centre to Praxis Community Project; and Spitalfields Crypt Trust to Providence Row.
Miranda July is known for artworks that depend upon the public’s participation — be they apps, performances or sculptures. Her interfaith charity shop at Selfridges will present customers with an unexpected retail experience that will resonate with founder Harry Gordon Selfridge’s famous pronouncement in 1909 that his store was created as an open house, where “everyone is welcome.”
Miranda July said: “For many years I’ve wanted to make a store as artwork; utilizing the inherently participatory conventions of commerce. When I first came to London, in my twenties, the sheer number of charity shops giddily amazed me, but it’s only in creating this store with Artangel that I understand what a radically unique economic model they are. The nuances of this come from my faith – based charity shop partners and from the site; Selfridges.”
Michael Morris & James Lingwood, Co – Directors of Artangel, said: “Artists continually lead Artangel into uncharted territory so we are delighted to be collaborating with Miranda July in joining forces with four faith – based charities on the third floor of Selfridges. Our shop within a shop, like London itself, is proudly open to the world.”
Open to the World documentary VF.com
INFO ABOUT THE ORGANIZATIONS
Artangel view website
Artangel produces and presents extraordinary art in unexpected places in London, the UK and beyond. For over 30 years Artangel has generated some of the most talked – about art of recent times, including projects with Clio Barnard, Jeremy Deller, Roger Hiorns, Michael Landy, Steve McQueen, Rachel Whiteread, an d more recently Ryoji Ikeda, PJ Harvey and Jorge Otero – Pailos’s The Ethics of Dust at Westminster Hall, Houses of Parliament. Appearing anywhere from vacant apartments stores to subterranean vaults and London’s night sky, Artangel produces art that surprises, inspires and wouldn’t be possible within the confines of a gallery.
Selfridges view website
The business was founded by American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge in 1909 and was widely regarded as the first and best example of a modern department store. Harry Gordon Selfridge ran the store himself until he retired in 1940. After several ownerships the company was de – merged from the Sears Group in 1998 and floated on the London Stock Exchange. In 2003 W. Galen Weston purchased Selfridges and under his ownership Selfridges has become an extraordinary global destination for fashion, luxury and retail theatre. In June 2010 Selfridges was named Best Department Store in the World for the first time by the IGDS (Intercontinental Group of Department Store s). The title, which Selfridges held until June 2012, is the industry’s highest accolade. Selfridges won the title again in June 2012, and again in 2014 for an unprecedented three times consecutively. In May 2016, Selfridges won the inaugural award for World’s Best Sustainability Campaign at the IGDS world summit. Selfridges has four stores in London, Birmingham and Manchester (Trafford Centre, Exchange Square) and our international website now delivers within the UK and to over 130 countries, trading in eight currencies. Selfridges today, continues Harry Gordon Selfridge’s legacy – a shopping experience that promises to surprise, amaze and amuse its customers by delivering extraordinary customer experiences.
Islamic Relief view website
Islamic Relief is an international aid and d development charity that aims to alleviate the suffering of the world’s poorest people in more than 30 countries, mainly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. As well as responding to disasters and emergencies, Islamic Relief promotes sustainable economic and social development by working with local communities – regardless of race, religion or gender. In its 33 – year history, Islamic Relief has helped more than 110m people across the world. Islamic Relief is one of the 13 UK charities that form the DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee).
Islamic Relief is rated 20th in the Top 500 Non – Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the world by the Swiss – based independent media organization NGO Adviser.
Norwood view website
Norwood is the largest Jewish charity in the UK supporting thousands of vulnerable children and their families, children with special educational needs and people with learning disabilities and autism.
Founded in 1795, Norwood is one of the UK’s oldest charities and the only Jewish charity to enjoy the Patronage of Her Majesty The Queen. It helps children and adults to maximize their potential at home, at school and throughout their lives, through personalized services designed to enable choice.
Each year Norwood needs £35m to keep its services running, £12m of which comes through voluntary donations. These services include a total of 55 residential, supported living and family centers across London and the South East.
Norwood currently runs eight charity shops across North and East London thanks to the support of 150 dedicated volunteers.
London Buddhist Centre view website
The London Buddhist Centre (LBC) in the heart of the East End teaches meditation, mindfulness, and yoga through daily classes, courses and retreats. Our aim is to help people from all walks of life lead more fulfilling lives, reach their highest potential and alleviate suffering in the world. Buddhists practice non – violence and believe our minds determine how we respond to our experience. We provide practical tools so that people can change their minds and develop greater wisdom and compassion for responding creatively to the world. The Centre offers an oasis of calm in the midst of busy urban life and is very much part of the local, diverse landscape in Tower Hamlets. Through its innovative mindfulness program, the LBC reaches out to people living with stress, pain, depression, and addiction. We also run events for families, carers, schools, and professionals as well as arts happenings. Many of our activities are by donation and teachers give their time and skills voluntarily for the benefit of others.
Spitalfields Crypt Trust view website
Spitalfields Crypt Trust (SCT) is an East London charity providing practical help for people recovering from complex drug and alcohol addictions. They provide homes, therapy, productive activity and a supportive community to help people to avoid relapses and lead healthier, happier lives.
Their support isn’t a ‘one – size – fi ts – all’ approach but is personalized to fit each person’s individual needs and hopes. Their approach combines Christian values with best practice and innovation. They help people of all faiths and none.
Joanie 4 Jackie (aka Big Miss Moviola) was an underground film network for girls and women, formed in 1995. For more than ten years women sent their movies to Joanie 4 Jackie and received a “Chainletter” tape in return — their movie compiled with nine others. In a pre-YouTube world, this was one-way women could see each other’s work and know they weren’t alone. The project inspired girls to make movies for the first time, circulated work by seasoned artists and connected women across the country through screenings and booklets of letters that arrived with each videotape. By the time the project had run its course the work of over 200 filmmakers was distributed through 22 compilation tapes, and Joanie 4 Jackie had exhibited movies all over the world, from punk clubs to the Museum of Modern Art.
In January 2017 The Getty Research Institute announced the acquisition of the complete Joanie 4 Jackie archives. Twenty-seven boxes of tapes, posters, letters, embarrassing notes, to-do lists, and grandiose plans will be made available to researchers and preserved for all time in a feminist and queer context, alongside the archives of artists such as Yvonne Rainer, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Carolee Schneemann. The Getty Trust is a non-profit organization devoted to arts research, education, philanthropy, and the conservation and preservation of world heritage.
July and Paul Ford (writer and co-founder, Postlight) collaborated to make a portrait of the Seven on Seven audience, using only the data audience members had shared online. Presented by Rhizome, the Seven on Seven conference pairs seven leading artists with seven luminary technologists, and challenges them to make something new together. They unveil their creations, and discuss their process, at this intimate public event at The New Museum.
In July’s fourth full-length performance, she invited the audience to transform the theater into an intentional community—to stay with her in the theater for the rest of their lives to form an independent state. She elected herself as the leader and invited audience members to participate in its establishment. One spectator composed a national anthem while another designed a flag and a few more drafted a constitution. Twenty years would pass in the course of these approximately two-hour, high-wire performances—unique experiments in collaboration, intertwining the histories and talents of the audience with a startling chronicle of time, love, and group faith.
10/07/2015 Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York
11/20/2014 Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus OH
10/30/2014 Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
From the acclaimed filmmaker, artist, and bestselling author of no one belongs here more than you, comes a spectacular debut novel that is so heartbreaking, so dirty, so tender, so funny, so Miranda July. Readers will be astonished.
Here is Cheryl, a tightly-wound, vulnerable woman who lives alone, with a perpetual lump in her throat. She is haunted by a baby boy she met when she was six, who sometimes recurs as other people’s babies. Cheryl is also obsessed with Phillip, a philandering board member at the women’s self-defense nonprofit where she works. She believes they’ve been making love for many lifetimes, though they have yet to consummate in this one.
When Cheryl’s bosses ask if their twenty-one-year-old daughter, Clee, can move into her house for a little while, Cheryl’s eccentrically ordered world explodes. And yet it is Clee—the selfish, cruel blond bombshell—who bullies Cheryl into reality and, unexpectedly, provides her the love of a lifetime.
Tender, gripping, slyly hilarious, infused with raging sexual obsession and fierce maternal love, Miranda July’s first novel confirms her as a spectacularly original, iconic, and important voice today, and a writer for all time. The First Bad Man is dazzling, disorienting, and unforgettable.
“Miranda July’s ability to pervert norms while embracing what makes us normal is astounding. Writing in the first person with the frank, odd lilt of an utterly truthful character, she will make you laugh, cringe and recognize yourself in a woman you never planned to be. By the time July tackles motherhood, the book has become a bible. Never has a novel spoken so deeply to my sexuality, my spirituality, my secret self. I know I am not alone.”
–Lena Dunham, author of Not That Kind of Girl
“Cheryl Glickman, Miranda July’s heroine in this unforgettable novel, is one of the most original, most confounding and strangely sympathetic characters in recent fiction. She narrates this very intimate epic that starts in a place of brittle, quirky, loneliness and progresses into a profoundly moving story of nontraditional love and commitment. This novel is almost impossible to put down, and confirms July as a novelist of the first order.”
–Dave Eggers, author of The Circle
“Miranda July’s first novel announces something new, not only in its invention, characterization, and pace, but emotional truth. With it, the esteemed artist and filmmaker joins the front rank of young American novelists—and then surpasses them.”
–Hilton Als, author of White Girls
“I am in awe of Miranda July. She is the person I want to be, the artist who feels free to work in any number of media, the artist who is so talented, expressive. The First Bad Man is a book that must be read, a book that must be purchased—in duplicate—one for you, one for a friend. Don’t think you can loan this book—you’ll never get it back.”
–A.M. Homes, author of May We Be Forgiven
“July’s work reminds us that the essential storytelling tool is voice. Hers is smart, funny, twisted, vulnerable, humane, and reassuring: a dazzling human consciousness speaking frankly and fondly and directly to you. If I ever start to doubt the power of language and intelligence, I only have to read a few lines of July to have my faith restored.”
–George Saunders, author of Tenth of December
“The ‘yes, that’s really the way it is!’ moments in this book came so fast and furious that I found myself propelled into a story that, despite its subtly off-kilter course, somehow—I don’t know how—ended up revealing the invisible and depthless emotional reality that roils and tugs beneath us all. Miranda July’s protagonist inhabits this uncharted world of unspeakable desires, embarrassing hopes and shifting conquests more fully than any in contemporary fiction I can recall. The First Bad Man is a strange miracle of a book, and despite the opinion of its main character, a truly great American love story for our time.”
–Chris Ware, author of Building Stories
Link to The First Bad Man Store.
1/9/2015, The New York Times: Miranda July Blurs Reality and Fiction to Promote A Novel.
Artist, writer, and director, Miranda July introduces her collaboration with WELCOMECOMPANIONS, an obsessively personalized namesake handbag as part of our CLASSICS collection. Available in two versions, the first, a limited edition that takes the phenomenon of a named bag to its most extreme complete with Miranda’s contents and comments in specially fashioned and labelled pockets. The edition of 100 is a modern day Duchampian box by way of a nineteenth century trunk maker — a new world wunderkammer and a portrait of a lady. Launch party at Opening Ceremony, LA – a voyeuristic of the hosts’ personal handbag contents, likenesses by a hand portraitists, music by JD Samson.
To view the collection go to welcomecompanions.com/collections/classics
Video premiered on Vogue
“Test my soil. Deeper.”
Have you ever found it impossible to say something, face to face, to someone you know, someone you love? The words just won’t come out? A new messaging service, SOMEBODY, by Miranda July could help. It’s the star of her film for Miu Miu Womens’ Tales, the eighth commission in the acclaimed short-film series by women directors who critically celebrate femininity in the 21st century.
Jessica wants to tell Caleb she can’t be his girlfriend anymore. She opens up SOMEBODY, types in the heartbreaking message, and selects Paul from a list. Paul is in the park. Paul’s phone dings. He eyes Caleb having a picnic. Paul delivers the bad news—as Jessica. Eyes bawling. Arms flapping. Caleb is, devastated.
The SOMEBODY app then totally saves Yolanda and Blanca’s friendship, makes Jeffy’s marriage proposal to lonely Victoria, and initiates a curious ménage-a-trois between two prison workers and a parched potted plant named Anthony.
This latest addition to Womens’ Tales showcases Miranda July’s unique ability to capture the strange tenderness of contemporary relationships.
SOMEBODY takes our endless hunger for communication, technology, avatars and outsourcing, and blends it into what seems to be a surreal near-future — but it’s not. It’s right now. In close collaboration with Miu Miu, July worked with a team of developers to create this radical and complex app; when the movie ends we’re invited to visit somebodyapp.com to send or deliver our first message.
Premiered at the Venice Film Festival.
A new messaging service by Miranda July
Texting is tacky. Calling is awkward. Email is old.
On August 28th Miranda July unveils a new way to communicate: Somebody — an app created with support from Miu Miu, available in the iTunes store as a free download (iOS only).
When you send your friend a message through Somebody, it goes — not to your friend — but to the Somebody user nearest your friend. This person (probably a stranger) delivers the message verbally, acting as your stand-in. The app launched at the Venice Film Festival along with a short companion film, part of Miu Miu’s Women’s Tales series.
Since Somebody is brand new early adapters are integral to its creation — the most high-tech part of the app is not in the phone, it’s in the users who dare to deliver a message to stranger. “I see this as far-reaching public art project, inciting performance and conversation about the value of inefficiency and risk,” says July.
Somebody works best with a critical mass of users in a given area; colleges, workplaces, parties and concerts can become Somebody hotspots simply by designating themselves as one (details on somebodyapp.com).
Official Somebody hotspots so far include Los Angeles County Museum of Art (with a presentation by Ms. July on Sept. 11), The New Museum (presentation on Oct. 9), Yerba Buena Center for The Arts (San Francisco), Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), and Museo Jumex (Mexico City.) Museum-goers are invited to send and deliver messages in these spaces where there are likely to be other users.
With Miu Miu’s support, July worked closely with designer Thea Lorentzen and a team of developers at the award winning Stinkdigital to create the complex, GPS-based messaging system. Half-app / half-human, Somebody twists our love of avatars and outsourcing —every relationship becomes a three-way. The antithesis of the utilitarian efficiency that tech promises, here, finally, is an app that makes us nervous, giddy, and alert to the people around us.
“When you can’t be there…Somebody can.”
• Add actions and directions for your stand-in, such as [crying] or [hug] — or write your own.
• The recipient always has the option of declining a delivery before it’s set in to motion, if now’s not a good time.
• The first sentence of the message is automatically “[Recipient’s name]? It’s me, [Sender’s Name]” — reminding the stand-in to assume the identity of the sender.
• Somebody™ uses GPS to locate your friend and users nearby, then presents you with photos and performance ratings so you can choose the best possible delivery person for your message.
If there’s no one nearby, you can choose to “float” your message indefinitely. Users interested in being a stand-in can browse nearby floating messages and pick one to deliver.
WE THINK ALONE was a collaboration with Danh Vo, Etgar Keret, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kate and Laura Mulleavy, Lena Dunham, Kirsten Dunst, Sheila Heti, Catherine Opie and Lee Smolin comissioned by Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall for a show called On The Tip of My Tongue. A themed compendium of ten previously-sent emails arrived every Monday, between July 1 and November 11, 2013, to the inboxes of those who had signed up to receive it. When the final email went out on November 11, 2013, WE THINK ALONE had over 104,892 readers from 170 countries.
Week 1: An Email About Money
Week 2: an email that gives advice
Week 3: an email that mentions Barack Obama
Week 4: a business email
Week 5: an email that includes a picture of something you want
Week 6: an email to your mom
Week 7: an email that includes a dream you had
Week 8: an email that includes a picture of art
Week 9: an email where you describe what you’re working on
Week 10: an email you decided not to send
Week 11: an email that includes a picture of yourself
Week 12: an email with I love you in it
Week 13: an email with a link in it
Week 14: an email about being sad
Week 15: an email about a fear
Week 16: an angry email
Week 17: an email that includes a song
Week 18: an email that’s an apology
Week 19: an email about the body
Week 20: an email about a problem you’re having with your computer
When Sophie (Miranda July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater) decide to adopt a stray cat, their perspective on life changes radically, literally altering the course of time and space and testing their faith in each other and themselves.
Written and directed by Miranda July; director of photography, Nikolai von Graevenitz; edited by Andrew Bird; music by Jon Brion; production design by Elliott Hostetter; costumes by Christie Wittenborn; produced by Gina Kwon, Roman Paul and Gerhard Meixner; released by Roadside Attractions. With: David Warshofsky (Marshall), Isabella Acres (Gabriella) and Joe Putterlik (Joe/the Moon).When Sophie (Miranda July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater) decide to adopt a stray cat, their perspective on life changes radically, literally altering the course of time and space and testing their faith in each other and themselves.
Written and directed by Miranda July; director of photography, Nikolai von Graevenitz; edited by Andrew Bird; music by Jon Brion; production design by Elliott Hostetter; costumes by Christie Wittenborn; produced by Gina Kwon, Roman Paul and Gerhard Meixner; released by Roadside Attractions. With: David Warshofsky (Marshall), Isabella Acres (Gabriella) and Joe Putterlik (Joe/the Moon).
In the summer of 2009, Miranda July was struggling to finish writing the screenplay for her much-anticipated second film. During her increasingly long lunch breaks, she began to obsessively read the PennySaver, the iconic classifieds booklet that reached everywhere and seemed to come from nowhere. Who was the person selling the “Large Leather Jacket, $10″? It seemed important to find out—or at least it was a great distraction from the screenplay.
Accompanied by photographer Brigitte Sire, July crisscrossed Los Angeles to meet a random selection of PennySaver sellers, glimpsing thirteen surprisingly moving and profoundly specific realities, along the way shaping her film, and herself, in unexpected ways.
Elegantly blending narrative, interviews, and photographs with July’s off-kilter honesty and deadpan humor, this is a story of procrastination and inspiration, isolation and connection, and grabbing hold of the invisible world.
Published by Mcsweeney’s.
Eleven Heavy Things, created for the 53rd International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale, is comprised of eleven sculptural works installed in an enclosed garden within Giardino delle Vergini. The cast fiber-glass, steel-lined pieces are designed for interaction: pedestals to stand on, tablets with holes for body parts, and free-standing abstract headdresses. A series of three pedestals in ascending height, The Guilty One, The Guiltier One, The Guiltiest One, ask the viewer to ascribe their guilt relative to the people around them. A large flat shape, hand-painted with Burberry plaid, hovers on a pole, waiting to become someone’s aura. A series of tablets invite heads, arms, legs and one finger: This is not the first hole my finger has been in, nor will it be the last. A wider pedestal for two people to hug on reads, We don!t know each other, we’re just hugging for the picture….
July assumes and invites the picture — these are eleven photo opportunities, in a city where one is always clutching a camera. Though the work begins as sculpture, it becomes a performance that is only complete when these tourist photos are uploaded onto personal blogs and sent in emails — at which point the audience changes, and the subject clearly becomes the participants, revealing themselves through the work.
Eleven Heavy Things was installed in the Center Lawn of Union Square Park in New York from May 29 to October 03, 2010.
Eleven Heavy Things was installed at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles from July 23 to October 23, 2011.
Eleven Heavy Things is included in the exhibition Stories We Tell Ourselves at the Aspen Art Museum on March 27, 2015 until October 25, 2015.
Production of this work has been supported by Deitch Projects.
A 125 foot hallway lined with fifty wooden signs, hand-painted with text. As the viewer/participant walks down the seemingly endless hall, weaving between the signs, the text acts as an internal voice, “It’s too late to go back now, but the end seems far away…” The “you” in text realizes that you’ll be walking down this hallway for the rest of your life. And like life, the hall is filled with indecision, disappointment, boredom and joy – and it does end.
English in one direction, Japanese in the other.
Commissioned by the Yokohama Triennial, 2008. In the collection of The Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan.
Directed by Miguel Arteta
Written by Miranda July
A couple weeks after Miranda finished shooting her first feature, she wrote three short dialogues. Miguel called together some friends and made this short film, using the three dialogues as a script. The excellent Chuy Chavez also shot “Me and You and Everyone We Know.”
Starring John C. Reilly, Mike White, Miranda July and Chuy Chavez, published in Wolphin #1
3 min 45 seconds.
A tale of heartbreak and obsession that is so familiar you could tell it yourself. In fact, members of audience play lead roles in the performance. Performed at The Steve Allen Theater (Los Angeles), Project Theater Artaud/San Francisco Cinematheque, and The Kitchen (New York, March 2007).
Christine Jesperson is a lonely artist and “Eldercab” driver who uses her fantastical artistic visions to draw her aspirations and objects of desire closer to her. Richard Swersey (John Hawkes), a newly single shoe salesman and father of two boys, is prepared for amazing things to happen. But when he meets Christine, he panics. Life is not so oblique for Richard’s seven-year-old Robby, who is having a risqué internet romance with a stranger, and his fourteen- year-old brother Peter who becomes the guinea pig for neighborhood girls— practicing for their futureof romance and marriage.In July’s modern world, the mundane is transcendent and everyday people become radiant characters who speak their innermost thoughts, act on secret impulses, and experience truthful human moments that at times approach the surreal. They seek together-ness through tortured routes and find redemption in small moments that connect them to someoneelse on earth.An IFC/FILM FOUR and Gina Kwon Production
An ever-changing performance, How I Learned To Draw was the name July gave to all her performances after The Swan Tool and before making her first feature film in 2004. These works were less narrative, more audience interactive, and primarily concerned with drawing attention to the present moment. In one show July integrated footage of her parents talking to her, another show was a collaboration with a local seven year-old piano player, in another performance July intuited which audience members would be good friends, and introduced them. These performances were presented at sites such as The Whitney Museum (New York), The Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh), and Portland Institute for Contemporary Art.
How Will I Know Her? is a web-based exhibit about being far from the one you love, for reasons that are out of your control. This project was launched in April 2002 and was initially commissioned by the International Short Film Festival in Oberhausen, Germany for a program on the theme of “Catastrophe”.
The Swan Tool combines video, performance, live music and helium to tell the story of a woman (played by July) who cannot decide whether to live or die. Rather than choose, she digs a hole in her backyard and buries herself. Following the self-burial she attempts to continue living and working, but the thing in the hole will not die and she is unable to forget about it. In this performance July stands on a narrow catwalk between two screens, one behind her top half, and one in front of her bottom half.
Music by Zac Love
Digital production by Mitsu Hadeishi
Co-commissioned by the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, the Rotterdamse Schouwburg, and the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Performed here and at sites such as The Institute of Contemporary Art (London), The Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), and Diverse Works (Houston).
This one is about being lost and found, from moment to moment, and over the course of a lifetime. The spirit realm manifests in lo-tech effects and remembered TV movies.
Starring Richard Greiling, Carrie Brownstein, and Mia Cianciulli
Commissioned by The Lux Centre for Pandaemonium 2001
Four alternating stories about mundane, personal methods of control. Children and a developmentally disabled adult operate control panels made out of paper, lists, monsters and their own bodies.
Starring Polly Bilchuk, Peter Borden, Eva Rioselo, Michael Loggins, Lindsay Beamish, Richard Greiling, Miranda July, and Aidan McClean
Made with a grant from the Andrea Frank Foundation.
July’s first full-length performance work. The first act revolves around a girl and her mother. The girl is either sick or pretending to be; the mother is either human or pretending to be. The second act tells the story of a woman on an airplane who is circling an entity called “The Titan” – a planet, a monster, a hopelessly sad man who is following her. A chorus of audience members perforate the second act with tales of the illusive, perfect “Love Diamond.” The performance combines slide and video imagery, all controlled by July while she performs. This was July’s first collaboration with composer Zac Love.
Commissioned by the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art. Performed here and at sites such as The New York Video Festival, The Kitchen (New York), and Yo-yo a Go-go (Olympia).
A “professional” woman monitors an “amateur” woman (both played by July) via video surveillance, as she has for the last four and a half years. She has never had direct contact with the amateur, but creates a sense of communion through numbers, knobs and careful language.
Digital video: Vanessa Renwick
Surveillance video: Miranda July
Editing: Kelly McClean
Music: Miranda July and D. Ben Noble
Sound mixing: Tim Renner
A 12 year-old Olympic swimmer and her mother (both played by July) speak to the public about “going for the gold”. Videoed by Miranda July, Wu La Dawson, and Summer Mastous. Edited by Miranda July.
Before performing full-length work in more theatrical performance venues, July performed in music clubs, sharing bills with bands like Sleater-Kinney, Chicks on Speed, and Dub Narcotic. Most of this work was recorded and is available on the CDs The Binet-Simon Test (Kill Rock Stars, 1998) and Ten Million Hours A Mile (Kill Rock Stars, 1997). Before this, July was a member of the band The Need; this collaboration can be heard on the 7″ record Margie Ruskie Stops Time (Kill Rock Stars, 1996).