‘It Chooses You’; an unapologeticly gushy book review of Miranda July’s new book.

If we’ve ever met, in real life, or just through this blog, you probably already know my feelings about Miranda July-

That she’s the standard I’ve tried to acheive, both in personal weirdness and in artistic endeavors.
That I often invoke the name of MJ to get myself out of internet-browsing ruts (‘WouldMiranda July have just spent an hour googling herself and bookmarking recipes she never intends to cook instead of making art?)

I’ve just finished her newest book, It Chooses You, and come to find out, she totally does.

Unlike her last book, It Chooses You is a work of non-fiction and follows July when, in an attempt to avoid working on the script of her newest movie (the Future), she began to interview people who took out ads in the Pennysaver. She begins the project, much like the character Jason in The Future, with no plan other than to hopefully find some sort of answers. The book is filled with interviews, photos and July’s own anxiety-ridden inner monologue.

There are a few moments of the kind found in July’s movies/work of fiction- where ordinary things or words become weird and beautiful and almost transcendent, but what I truly truly loved about this book was getting to see her as a person- a person with with insecurities, self-doubts, a person who procrastinates, a person who googles themselves, a person who worries if they’re ‘doing enough’ with the time they have-

Iwish I could write better or end this more eloquently other than just saying ‘Go read it.’ But my head’s full from reading too much too fast. So, uh, Go read it.

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Cabin Fever

Structures in China's Gobi Desert.

From.

Eleven Heavy Things. Miranda July

'Spiral Jetty.' Robert Smithson

from Laura Hruska's collection of performances/photographs featuring the artist in elaborate costumes

from Laura Hruska's collection of performances/photographs featuring the artist in elaborate costumes

from Situations. Sigurdur Gudmundsson

From.

snow sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy

from Memisis. Barbara and Michael Leisgen

 From.

Mended Spiderwebs. Nina Katchadourian

Time Landscape. Alan Sonfist. A rectangular plot of 25' x 40' in lower Manhattan filled with plants native to New York in precolonial times.

Jacinda Russell's water samples. This one from Fort Stevens State Park, OR.

Jacinda Russell's water samples. This one from Fort Stevens State Park, OR.

 

And speaking of art outside:

from the first performance of The Letter Box Project. Cat Lynch.

The fourth (and fifth) performances coming soon to a public space near you*. Details to follow.

*if you’re near Columbus, OH, that is.

Absent and Present

Apologies if updates have been sparse in number and in content. I was essentially useless last week due to the beginning of peak marathon training (coinciding with sudden “record breaking” heat) and a lack of sleep. Add to this the energy required to not get fired from my amazing new job and a trying family emergency and you get one useless person. I was even napping after work- Napping!

Fortunately, though, all things must pass- Been spending the weekend practically hibernating, the heat wave is breaking at this very moment (rain! huzzah!), and the family thing has been brought to an end that, when viewed unselfishly and objectively, is the best possible. Finally feeling like the me of seven days ago.*

Also been working on that drawing/performance collaboration that no one but me remembers (probably). As strange as it may sound coming from one who writes in first person narrative and makes largely autobiographical pieces, I hate being looked at, being the center of attention. My work? Fine, yes, totally. Look at it! Look! Just don’t look at me. With most of my work, there’s an object or image or words that can act as a buffer- tell the stories I want to tell while being detatched from myself. With performance, however, there’s immediacy. The audience is right. there.

With this drawing project, I knew almost from the beginning I didn’t want to do a big, elaborate ‘in a gallery with an audience’ type of performance.I admire the hell out of artists like Marina Abramovic, but Marina I’m not. Around the time of the Goodwill Project, I started to do a lot of thinking about performance as PERFORMANCE! vs. performance as ritual. Over the course of several conversations with artists who I’m lucky enough to know, including Hannah Barnes and Jen G., the idea of private performances came up. The idea of making things in general as a sort of meditative and ritualistic process is already a favorite theme of mine- even if the end product isn’t a tangible object, why couldn’t I keep working with this theme? Hannah in particular made a comment about ‘setting up an experience’- making public work (like the Goodwill Project) that invited participation which could be noticed or not. (sort of like Miranda July’s Eleven Heavy Pieces or Art Club’s shows).

So, over throughout September, I’ll be doing a series of five performances- each 1-5 minutes, each based on a 5 min. drawing from 5 artists I know that I’ve received over the course of a year. In keeping with the themes of impermanence, lack of control (on my part) collaboration, and the use of antiquated technology**, the performances will be executed with the help of 5 new artists met in the past year and documented with pinhole cameras.

This weekend I built a prototype and experimented with exposure times. Here’s a ‘best of’ (most of the rest are repeats of these images w/ slightly different exposures).

Also, I’m pretty sure using a matchbox to take photos is akin to magic. Definitely sure. I’m practically a wizard.

*Jeff Smith would say it was the rain.
**and in part because my A4 is in disrepair

A photolog of the past week or so.

First- One of Jen’s adventure bag. Want to know more? Ask her, maybe she’ll even let you check one out.

deciding where to nap is G's daily adventure.

My (now) buried treasure.

And then there was Pulpfest 2011.

the spoils.

And speaking of pulpish things, a peek at a reference photo for the next installment of the Correspondence Campaign.

No photos of it, but researched and found a location for the next Thing. (coming to a library near you, this fall…)

plus stuio time

more studio time.

took a break from studio to build (and poorly photograph) a long promised spice rack

To promote her upcoming movie, Miranda July has a website where you can instantly have your fortune told, as well as sign up for bi-weekly updates about your fate from MJ. Of course I signed up. Worth it, just for this:

Then, a week or so ago I found this while cleaning connectors at the museum:

Which totally relates to one of the Things- and therefore all of the Things- and which will most definitely reappear as it’s own Thing.

 

to two too.

Not one, but two shows coming up (although, does it count if one is a one woman show you made up at your local Goodwill store? Cause if not, then just one show) More about that later though, when I have brain enough to put wordy-things into whatsits……sentances, yeah.

Hilary Carlip

Also stumbled upon A La Cart by Hillary Carlip in my local library. The book contains 26 found grocery lists (!), with Carlip dressed up as the characters created based on the items on the lists, the appearance of the lists themselves as well as where she found them (!!) as well as their stories she made up about them (!!!) This fits so completely with what I’m doing with the Goodwill Project that I had to get it. In retrospect, though, I kind of wish it was just the image and list. The stories feel flatter than the pictures and at times not…so good. Plus printing the story too kills some of the mystery. I like that mystery.

Speaking of stories and wonderful things my hero (and conscious*) Miranda July has a new movie coming out. There’s also a place on the movie’s website where you can get your future read and sign up to get your future emailed to you every Monday and Thursday. Which I’ve totally done. I’ll let you know when I know.

*Any time I worry about petty shit, or spend large amounts of time on facebook or looking at pictures of cats, or just internetting in general I think “What did Miranda July do for the past hour and a half- d’you think she watched Nora the Piano cat three times in a row? Picked at her face? Looked at every facebook photo of old classmates not seen since fourth grade? Or do you think, instead, she spent the time thinking brilliant things or making up dances or writing another movie that will change your life?” I know this is not fair to her or me, but I can’t stop doing it.

you would see, the biggest gift would be from me.***

My former professor/thesis advisor and friend Hannah Barnes used to always say (to me. Presumably she’s still saying it, just to other students now) “College is about finding your friends.” Meaning, not just the people in your class/dorm/etc, but your art-friends. Research artists who’s work you like, see who they looked at/hung out with and look at them, and see who they looked at/hung out with and look at them.*

Doing so has helped me not only to be more aware of the world in which I’m living, but has also given me an ‘in’ to the Conversation. Rather than being That Person, the one who jumps blindly into conversations, blurts out the first connection she’s made, embarassing herself and everyone around her, I’m able to listen, think, and every once in a while, join in. Looking at other artists who’s work is really interesting to me has also helped to pinpoint certain trends/interests/directions in my work that might not be apparent in isolation.

I recently had a conversation with another artist who, after expressing an appreciation for figurative “realistic” paintings and a dislike of conceptual art, said “I’ve been told that’s narrow minded, but I’m not. I just have an opinion.” And while I lovelovelove all the art he was talking about hating, I had to respect his view. I sometimes worry that I make ‘friends’ too easy. Even the art I don’t react to on an immediate gut-grinding-I-LOVE-YOU level, I can usually find something to appreciate in the history or philosophy (and even sometimes lackthereof) behind it.

Fastforward a few days to another conversation with Jen, wherein she mentioned her Top 3 Living Artists at Whose Feet She’d Like to Sit. As she told me hers, I realized that if pressed, at that moment I could come up with several artists who I enjoyed, several more who I reallyreally loved and only one that was still alive (Ann Hamilton).

Whether it’s an argument or interview or even just plain conversation, I always find the right thing to say about ten minutes after the fact. “…OH. That’s what I should’ve said. Damn.” So, for my own benefit, knowledge and just in case the question ever comes up again, I’ve thought, run, and thought some more and put together my list of three** Living Artists At Whose Feet I’d Like to Sit.

Tim Hawkinson

Ann Hamilton

Janine Antoni

Miranda July

Check them out. Like ’em. Or hate em. I could wax poetic about any one of them for another four large textblocks, but you’ve been with me this long, so go, run, explore the internet.

*thank you rabbit-hole that is wikipedia
**well, four. Three and a half really as I really just love Miranda July’s brain. And writing. And, okay, her art. So it’s four.
***And the card attached would say?

I know I said no new posts but.

I have discovered the cure for writer’s block! Having been a chronic sufferer myself until (very) recently, you can imagine how excited I am to share the solution with you all! All I did was

  • plan a fairly (for me anyway) impulsive move to a new city
  • panic about said move/not having a job/no longer being held in the safe bosom of academia
  • let said panic about said move spur a flurry of packing
  • pack everything I own a week too early
  • make *cupcakes
  • look at all the cool things other people are making
  • want to make cool things too
  • realize all art supplies except sketchbook are packed
  • realize sketchbook is in car and have no desire to go get it
  • have nothing to do on a friday night.
  • write!

(who knew it was so easy?)

Three new poems up under Writing- two new, one not so.

*an integral part of the process.