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Friday, September 19, 2003

Miranda July 

16 September

Miranda July presented a collection of short, unconnected pieces that spanned her many talents, using sound, video, monologue, short story, animation, and interactive film/performance. As always, she delivered a captivating performance, probing the interior world of her imagined cast of characters, revealing their vulnerability and freakishness, sometimes overt, sometimes the freakishness of utter banality. In “Peanut”/”Jeanie,” a 2 part sound piece, July enacts a telephone conversation of a prepubescent boy, awkwardly and futilely professing his affections for a classmate. “Nothing” begins with a nervous monologue, July assuming the guise of an obsessive personality who is so busy, that she must schedule time to do simply nothing during a performance. Failing her attempt to enjoy idle time in public, she exits, leaving the handwritten title of the piece simply projected onstage. Soon, a story begins to appear next to the title, sentence by sentence, appearing as an extended fantasy borne of the performer’s boredom as she tries to relax backstage. An elaborately fabricated scenario soon posits the auditorium as the only place earth, the audience as the population of this new civilization. The fantasy soon turns to power and sexuality (the cornerstones of any daydream)–Who will lead this civilization? Who will copulate with who? “Airport” is a short film showing the small drama of a man with his child sitting next to a woman clutching a stroller in an airport waiting lounge. An overlay of animation turns this mundane scene into a battle of personal space, each person possessing a sphere of influence, visualized as a colorful, perpetually metamorphosing blob. July here becomes a sort of amateur social scientist, the crude animation revealing a humorous look at the American demand for personal space and our real and imagined relationships with strangers in public places.

July announced at the end of her performance that she will be moving to Los Angeles, a significant loss for Portland’s art community. Her devotees can only wish her the best of luck as she works her charm on another West Coast city.

Katherine Bovee

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