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Miranda July Makes Art That Requires People

It’s summertime in New York City, and instead of sitting in cramped apartments or crowded coffee shops, people are once again congregating in parks. In light of this fact, multi-talented artist Miranda July decided it was the perfect time to set up a public art installation in the city’s Union Square. The project is called <em>Eleven Heavy Things</em>, and consists primarily of gray pedestals with text written on them by July herself, encouraging people to stand on and interact with its components. The installation — which originally appeared at the Venice Biennale — is available for all to see and fool around with until October 3, 2010.

ARTINFO met up with July to ask her some questions about her latest work. After the jump, read some of what July had to say and sample more pieces from her art installation.

On finding the right location: “Washington Square in New York was first discussed. Which, actually, has a graveyard underneath it. You can’t dig very easily. There are bones. A number of other parks were presented and this seemed clearly like the best one. The great fear is that you’re going to make a park worse. A park’s pretty good to begin with — you don’t want to mess it up. Luckily, I think the installation is pretty delicate. It doesn’t overtake the park.”

On what the sculptures are exactly: “I kind of appreciate that they’re coming off almost like play equipment or something. For kids they totally are; that’s all they are. I mean, there’s so much, however you’re approaching them. They’re definitely sculptures too — they were made for the Biennial — they’re that. You know my background. I think when I was invited to be in that show I took it very literally. ‘Now I’m going to make some ART.’ Almost like in a cartoon, what art would be. And yeah, of course I had to figure out how to do that in my own way. The fact that I had to make heavy objects that had to be shipped — it’s like, I can’t believe I did that, with all the other options I had.”

On the significance of the number 11: “I had more than eleven ideas, and it was an editing process. I made all these little drawings. I had them laid out on the floor at one point. I remember going through with my now-husband [filmmaker and artist Mike Mills] — us haggling, getting down to ‘What would just be trite?’ It’s easy with something short to end up being oddly trite.”

For the full interview, read ARTINFO’s “Please Do Touch: A Q&A with Miranda July.”

All photographs by Brian Paul Lamotte, courtesy of the artist and Suzanne Geiss LLC.