Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

Eleven Heavy Things: Miranda July

Written by Nicole Hardesty
Photos by Nicole Hardesty
Union Square, better known as the haven of power lunches, reading spaces, and naptime, currently has a different kind of attraction. Eleven Heavy Things by Miranda July. The art show that’s inviting you to touch. Talk about influential art. Miranda July has taken artist interaction to the next level. When have you ever seen a piece of art telling you what to do or how to act? You can this (summer and) fall at Union Square in Manhattan through October 3.
Eleven Heavy Things presents cement blocks armed with heavy commentary such as, “What I look like when I really mean it,” and “The guilty one.” Each block is inviting onlookers to become part of the art show. Miranda July is an “everything” artist. She does it all: music, acting, writing, and directing. Miranda’s career as a filmmaker, artist, performer, and writer began as a teenager in Berkeley, California. She’s made videos, performances, and Web-based projects; and her work has been presented at the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and in the 2002 and 2004 Whitney Biennials.

Me and You and Everyone We Know
(2005) was July’s directorial, writing, and starring solo project, which won a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival and four prizes at the Cannes Film Festival. Her work has been featured in McSweeney’s, Harper’s, and The New Yorker. Her collection of stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You, won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award.
The ultimate performance artist isn’t letting her résumé stop there. Are you innocent? Have a certain face when you lie? July invites you to complete the other half of her pieces by simply expressing what she has already started for you. If you truly believe your daughter is “…brave, clever, and funny” then step up and place her on the block, take her picture, or just let the world see her for what the cement block says she is. “I think it’s great,” said Cyndy Sharper, an admirer. “The artist is really inviting us to be a part of her work.”
Most of July’s pieces are even open for interpretation by the viewer. One long vertical slab stands tall with random holes that vary in height and size with no instruction at all. Stick whatever you want though it—body parts, props, or whatever the mind’s imagination can come up with. And if nothing else, prop yourself up comfortably and read a book.

Eleven Heavy Things, made its debut in Giardino delle Vergini in Italy for the fifty-third International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale. The show is presented by Deitch Projects and with the cooperation of the Union Square Partnership. The exhibit’s project coordinator is Alexxa Gotthardt, and the project is managed by Suzanne Geiss.

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