Miranda July, Eleven Heavy Things, 2009
Installation at MOCA, PDC, 2011
Miranda July: Eleven Heavy Things
MOCA at the PDC
8687 Melrose Ave
West Hollywood, CA
July 23 through Oct. 23, 2011
None of us know exactly what we look like when we’re lying, unless of course someone snaps a picture of us in the throws of some flagrant act of deception, but how often does that happen? In her newest body of outdoor sculptures on the lawn of the PDC, the inimitable Miranda July makes strange and luminous allowances for personal self-reflection, co-opting an array of unflattering human characteristics like greed, deception, fear, self-loathing and guilt, to hers and our advantage, for who doesn’t want a second chance, or at least an opportunity to parade one’s malefactions in broad daylight? Somehow through the process of “being seen” we might come clean with ourselves? Who knows, but more is not necessarily better when it comes to translating complex ideas in visual art, and in fact, in this case, sometimes less is best.
First exhibited in a garden within Giardino delle Vergini for the 53rd International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2009, and then at Union Square Park in NY in 2010, July has created an array of objects that are at once interactive and interpretive, ironic and sometimes ridiculous. Some objects appear more utilitarian than others and range from pedestals to amorphous shapes that mimic the human form and into which people “fit themselves” neatly, or not so neatly “into.” The works themselves appear crude and unfinished, the handwritten sentiments scrawled across their surfaces indicative of site specific happenings of the 1970s and one half expects John Cage and Robert Rauschenberg to suddenly appear wearing tutus, carnival hats and sporting oversized wings. But the true objective of July’s conception here relates less to overt theatricality and more to the nuanced subtleties of human interaction, with the self and most notably with complete strangers, implying that we all share a common ground for experience. The most effective work in the exhibit are the “guilty pedestals,” which, you guessed it, begin with guilty, only to lead to guiltier and finally guiltiest. These works operate almost like inverted dunce caps where the participant implicates himself/herself by association, or by simply assuming a position on the pedestal. The “heavy” things that July is referring to here are not so much literal weights to bear, but are more metaphoric states of being, or ways in which we perceive the world around us and our temporal place in it. The saving grace is that within that weightiness is humor and the possibility for self-reflection.
July, who is most notably known as an independent filmmaker, has successfully transferred her unique brand of quirkiness to a sculptural medium, which encompasses a wide array of difficult human emotions including grief and absurdity, sadness and ribald humor; her odd brand of aestheticism is keenly felt in these simple, but highly effective sculptures. More is not necessarily better and in fact, less is often best.
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