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"It is impossible not to like Miranda July"

Miranda July could probably do anything. She has made work as an artist, film director, writer, app creator, musician and actress. In all these fields, she has received immense praise. July has exhibited at the Venice Biennale, published five books including a novel and a book of award-winning short stories, created online projects, released two albums and wrote, directed and acted in two feature films. Yet somehow across it all, she makes things that feel authentic, intimate and truly unique. It is impossible not to like Miranda July.

July has been in London for much of the two months working on her latest project, a multi-faith charity shop created with Artangel, installed in the basement of the London department store Selfridges. July brought four charities together – Islamic Relief, the Jewish charity Norwood, the London Buddhist Centre and the Spitalfields Crypt Trust – to create an amalgam shop that celebrated the charities sense of hope.

Speaking on the phone from LA, where she lives with her husband director Mike Mills, July enthused about how her Artangel project was reaching an audience beyond the art world. “Someone could have a very emotional response to the piece without ever conceptualizing it as art. That’s an achievement to me,” July explains. “I think people sometimes worry about what they should think or feel when they realize it is art. Because it’s a fully functioning store, it could swerve around that. Yet still be meaningful and surprising.”

The accessibility of her approach is what makes July so interesting. “I feel like a lot of my ideas are actually pretty weird and could be done in a totally alienating way. My job is to invite people in. Making it accessible. Making things cheap, Making them in places where people already are. That gets really exciting.” Whether it is sculptures that work when people stand in them or interviewing strangers discovered through classified ads, July’s work only makes sense because of its everyday realness.

  • Artist Miranda July photographed for Semaine
Images by Artangel.

The 43-year-old artist was brought up in Berkeley, California. She dropped out of University of Santa Cruz and moved to Portland in 1995, where she worked as a performance and video artist. It was a decade later that she had her international breakthrough, with the touching and romantic indie film ‘Me and You and Everyone We Know’. The film won four prizes in Cannes and the special jury prize at Sundance. July never looked back.

Thrift stores are familiar territory for Miranda. “I grew up shopping in the thrift stores like the Goodwill and the Salvation Army. That’s where me and my mom shopped and could afford. My first job was at a Goodwill store,” she remembers. July first discovered British charity shops in her early 20s, when she came to London to perform at the ICA and LUX. What blew her away was their breadth. “There are many little ones on every street for every cause, for every phase, for every kind of suffering. It seemed so British to me.” July’s ideas often emerge from real, lived experiences and responses to a place.

The Artangel project followed a creative collaboration with Miu Miu, where she created the art app Somebody which connected strangers through their phones. She wanted to try working with something unbranded in the context of the luxury store. “I think there is something political about making a utopic space,” July considers. She has spent up to eight hours a day in the store, watching people make friends and return with the families. Many have given the staff food in thanks. “They return again and again. Charity shops are not just a capitalist space. They function as a community space, for all different kinds of people,” July enthuses. On average the shops is earning £1200 a day – more than most charity shops make in a week.

July’s own taste in fashion – a fusion of vintage and independent labels – initially influenced her take on the project. All the goods were stockpiled in a warehouse and pieces were pulled weekly to restock the shop. Just before the opening, July went through thousands of items and pulled her favourites. “The funny thing I realized right away was that the audience was so diverse that a lot of my ‘special’ curated picks would just sit there day after day! And the Zara faux-leather, studded thing would get snapped up immediately. And it looked really good! I now have such a respect for peoples’ ability to find what’s right for them and for all the different vernaculars. A charity shop can speak to all of them.”

July’s living, breathing store also has a sense of narrative built into it. Stories come naturally to July in all mediums. The boundary between fiction and reality is very thing and loose for her. “It’s clear I’m making a real fiction from the ground up with books and movies. But a lot of times I’m interested in real people. I’ve cast real people in movies like someone I met through the PennySaver.” July explains. “I still am really interested in how you can make a narrative with strangers.”

When the shop closes its doors of October 22, July will return to LA to work on her third feature film. She has finished the writing and is currently casting the leads. July herself isn’t stepping in front of the camera this time, but like everything she creates you can guarantee her honest, open and individualistic take on life will exude from every scene.

By Francesca Gavin for Semaine.

"Ones to Watch"

Miranda had her first international breakthrough, the indie film ‘Me and You and Everyone We Know’. The film won four prizes in Cannes and the special jury prize at Sundance. I think it’s safe to say her selections below are ones to watch.



“An Angel at my Table”
Jane Campion, 1990


Academy Award-winning filmmaker Jane Campion brings to the screen the harrowing true-life story of Janet Frame, New Zealand’s most distinguished author. The film follows Frame along her inspiring journey, from a poverty-stricken childhood to a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia and electroshock therapy, and then, finally to, international literary fame.



“Smooth Talk”
Joyce Chopra, 1985


A free-spirited 15-year-old girl flirts with a dangerous stranger in the Northern California suburbs and must prepare herself for the frightening and traumatic consequences.



“Bright Star”
Jane Campion, 2009


This drama details the passionate three-year romance between Romantic poet John Keats — who died tragically at age 25–and his great love and muse.



Richard Linklater, 1992


This groundbreaking and influential indie classic, is a day in the life of Austin, among its social outcasts and misfits. These characters, who in some manner just don’t fit into the establishment norms, move seamlessly from one scene to the next, randomly coming and going into one another’s lives.



“The Maid”
Sebastían Silva, 2009


A drama centered on a maid trying to hold on to her position after having served a family for 23 years.

"The Miranda Aesthetic"

If we could channel Miranda in every way, we would. Luckily for us at Semaine we can.

Vintage Grey Check Two Piece
The First Bad Man Book
The Association of Charity Shops
Setting Up and Running Charity Shops: An Essential Guide
The Association of Charity Shops
Services Book Sculpture
Miranda July
Various Projects
Battery Powered Lint Roller
"Bookstore Recs"

Miranda listed us her favourite bookstores that she has ever visited, all over the world. Now you can lose yourself in the same places that she has birthed her own thoughts and ideas.

Motto Berlin
Skalitzer St. 68
10997 Berlin
One of the coolest bookshops ever, and not just because it happens to be in Berlin.

Adobe Books
3130 24th St.
CA 94110
San Francisco
Known affectionately as The Living Room of the Mission, Adobe Books and Arts Cooperative, Inc. (“Adobe Books” or “Adobe”) was founded in 1989, becoming a bohemian nexus for artists and writers.

AA Bookshop
36 Bedford Square
London, WC1B 3ES
United Kingdom
One of London’s cosiest bookstores and a strong rival to Daunt Books. For getting lost in the shelves.

Alias Books East
3163 Glendale Blvd
CA 90039
Los Angeles
Alias Books East is a general used bookstore in the heart of Atwater Village, perfect for used and out of print titles.
"Tales to Inspire"

Miranda currently has six published books in circulation. She’s also working on her third feature film… We’re not sure if her creative brain ever stops, but we’re extremely glad it is so high functioning.

The Schooldays of Jesus
by J.M. Coetzee
In this mesmerising allegorical tale, Coetzee deftly grapples with the big questions of growing up, of what it means to be a parent, the constant battle between intellect and emotion.



The Childhood of Jesus
by J. M. Coetzee
After crossing oceans, a man and a boy – both strangers to each other – arrive in a new land. David, the boy, has lost his mother and Simon vows to look after him. In this strange country they are each assigned a new name, a new birthday, a new life.



Come As You Are
by Dr. Emily Nagoski
Come as You Are reveals the true story behind female sexuality, uncovering the little-known science of what makes us tick and, more importantly, how and why.



Man V. Nature
by Diane Cook
Perfectly pitched and gorgeously penned, this astonishingly bold collection of stories explores the boundary between the wild and the civilized, pitting human beings against the extremes of nature.



Family Furnishings
by Alice Munro
Alfrida, for so long an admired, urbane exponent of big-city living to her young rurally isolated niece, has lost some of her gloss by the time she accepts a university place in the same city as her aunt.



"Maybe going to the heart of the matter."
Get to know Tastemaker Miranda July like you never have before.

What do you think is your greatest virtue?
Maybe going to the heart of the matter.

What’s your favorite word?

Who do you think people should follow on Instagram?
I really enjoy @balletrusse. I think she’s from Russia. She has great, original style but she’s also just an amazing ballerina. I get very inspired watching her.

What is the best advice you’ve ever had?
I remember someone telling me and my husband early on in our marriage that if you were looking for resolution, like trying to resolve everything when you fought, that you just wouldn’t last in a relationship and that you had to get comfortable with things, with resolution not being the goal.

What is the best way to start a conversation with a stranger?
Maybe ask them a question that you think they’re going to know the answer to.

What is the last thing you googled?
This is kind of boring but I was googling Frieze because I’m doing like a Frieze VIP event. I was looking to see if that was on the website if that had been announced, but subsequently, someone told me that the VIP events are not announced ever so I stopped looking.

What is the most played thing on your iTunes?
The new Blow album Brand New Abyss

If you could watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
This is sort of embarrassing but a movie I’ve seen a lot – A Room with a View. It’s so romantic, and she’s so wonderful. It just all revolves around her at her. I could just watch her forever, and I love how that movie ends. It’s just one of those things that’s like shaped me.

Go through your Instagram for two seconds and describe a picture that comes up.
The first thing up is someone I love and my greatest style-maker Please and Thank You Store (@pleaseandthankyoustore). It’s a picture of this woman Jenny. It looks like she’s splattering paint on clothes, and her dog is kind of getting in the way. Jenny curates vintage clothes for select, secret clients and famous designers who need references. And also for some people like me. She’s open to the public once in a while and she’s just the most lovely person.