Thursday, March 8, 2012

Miranda July: Definition of a Hipster Multi-media Artist

We are always looking for hipster books to read for our PBR Book Club.  Our current book of short stories is written by quirky hipster Miranda July.  We know July as a filmmaker and as a writer, but July is also a well known visual artist.  Her art involves interactions with people and words and is web and performance based.

One of her main works, a web project that lasted seven years called Learning to Love You More, has been acquired by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The online project  was started in 2002 and ended in 2009, and worked with over 8,000 participants. July and others created assignments for the participants to complete.  Participants accepted the assignment, completed it, and sent in the required report (photograph, text, video, etc), and their work was posted on-line. Examples of assignments include spending time with a dying person, braiding someone's hair, and growing a garden in an unexpected spot. 
Assignment #66 Make a field guide to your yard 

Assignment #62 Make an educational public plaque

In another project set up in Washington Square in New York in 2010 called Eleven Heavy Things, July set up a series of gray pedestals with text written on them by July herself, encouraging people to stand on and interact with its components.

Reaction to July's movies, books, and art have mixed reviews. In an October 2011 Guardian article by Paul Harris entitled Miranda July-doyenne of the art house chic or epitome of trendy indulgence?, he writes "To their fans, the works of July, Anderson and Baumbach are whip-smart and intelligent. But to their critics they are indulgent and overly focused on the perceived problems of a literary, white middle class......The criticism against July and others who create similar genres of art are nearly always rooted in the same arguments. Their work is all too often
twee and overly self-conscious..."

I love the the new buzz word "twee" and I actually love July's art. Whether or not you love or hate July's work, July is the definition of a multi-media artist.  More about her work and her artist statement can be found at:


  1. "This is not the first hole my finger has been in. Nor will it be the last." I love it!!! Thanks for sharing this! This actually makes me think of Mr. Max Grinnell and his talk about how to activate art in public spaces.

    I just read the first story in the July collection today -- "Shared Porch." Wow! Twee? Um, OK, maybe? A-ma-ZING? YES! I think July's more just plain weird and less "precious." I'm prepared to debate Nog on this.

  2. I'll be ready to debate! I actually like both of her films, but occasionally they do veer a little too far into the "twee" for me (whereas I tend to like Anderson's stuff and love Noah Baumbach...and remain the area's biggest champion of twee band Transmittens!).

    I haven't yet read a single July short story. Will pick it up soon!