Miranda July

Posted: June 8th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: art sur canapé: exhibition reviews | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

When you load Miranda July’s website for the first time, you can be quite surprised by the message appearing on the screen:
(you know the password, just clear your mind and look within. It will probably be the first word that you think of). If this doesn’t work, try looking at a candle for a few seconds).

Movie poster for Me and You and Everyone We Know, 2005

Miranda July is a filmmaker, performer and writer. Over the years she has written short stories, some of which have been published in Harper’s and in the New Yorker. No One Belongs Here More Than You was released in 2007, it is a compilation of 16 short stories.
Her first feature-length film Me and You and Everyone We Know was released in 2005: a divorced shoe salesman with 2 boys meets an eccentric artist and “Eldercab” driver. The movie is about how people manage to connect with one another in an isolating contemporary world. It won the Caméra d’Or prize in the Cannes Film Festival as well as the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival that year.

One of the Eleven Heavy Things, Venice Biennale, 2009

Miranda July is currently exhibiting in the group show “Making Worlds” at the Venice Biennale. The piece Eleven Heavy Things consists of 11 outdoor sculptures -pedestals more exactly- where visitors can stand on and pose. Some of them are tablets with holes for body parts so people are able to create some kind of “living sculpture“. “Take a picture of yourself with a “Heavy Thing” and post it on your blog so the rest of us can see“as read on Miranda July’s website.

She was born 1974 Miranda Jennifer Grossinger and she grew up in Berkeley, California where she began her career as a teenager, writing and directing plays. At the age of seven, she wrote a trilogy called The Lost Child and started recording interviews with herself (first taping the questions and then filling in the answers).
According to IMDb, she changed her last name to July because that is the month in which she is the most productive.
She lives and works in Los Angeles.

Miranda July in conversation with Tony DuShane, July 2007

Tony DuShane: What’s your writing schedule like? Do you go to the office to write? Do you mainly work on prose or do you kind of have all of your projects going at once?

Miranda July: Usually there’s something I need to write, like one main thing… like right now it’s my next screenplay. And when it comes to creative stuff, it keeps changing where works well for me. I mean sometimes I’m writing in that little house in Echo Park and sometimes I have to write in my bed, you know. I think I’m always trying to trick myself into thinking that it’s something I just decided to do that day, and entirely my own free will. (laughs) I’m not one of those nine to five writers either. A couple of hours is a long time for me and it usually helps to have other things in the day.

TD: In your writing, I find a lot of humor and a lot of loneliness as the themes. I know it’s hard to answer: how do you get your creativity? It’s like the worst question in the world. But does a humorous anecdote come in your mind first or does that work is way out as you’re writing the story, that the humor pops in?

MJ: Often I’ll have a feeling which is sometimes a sad or desperate or some kind of unresolved feeling, and I’ll marry it to some detail from the world, and those two things combined kind of set me on a course for writing a story. I don’t know what it’s going to be about. For example, I wrote down a few things the woman behind me on the plane said. She was talking about someone who was housesitting for her and the bird had escaped and she was describing how to catch the bird and what to do with it, and just little things she said, like, “Were you watching the house when Gabriel, the dove, escaped?” and it was like these little things which, in and of themselves, it’s like I’m not just interested in people’s dialogue, but that kind of loaned to some really personal thing in myself.

TD: Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

MJ: I do feel like, just as I made short films and then I made a feature, that I would like to write a novel now that I’ve written stories. I imagine that will take forever. I’d like to keep making movies, but certainly don’t want to have it be the main thing, which is sort of a continual fight because that industry is so, um, it thinks it wants to rule the world. So the idea that you’d want to do anything else is something you have to keep insisting on in yourself. And especially like you’d want to do something like performance, which hardly anyone sees and it doesn’t make any money, you know, which is probably why I went to do that.

“Making Worlds”, curated by Daniel Birnbaum, 53rd International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale, from 7th June to 22nd November 2009



The Boy from Lam Kien, Cloverfield Press, 2005
No One Belongs Here More Than You: Stories, Scribner Publishing, 2007
Learning to Love You More (with Harrell Fletcher), Prestel Publishing, 2007

One of the Congratulations cards made by Miranda July