Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Forever stuck in the background.

I don't think I've ever appreciated anything Miranda July has done as much as I appreciate this spread. While I admire her skill and versatility (actor, writer, artist) none of her other work has resonated with me as much as these images, created by herself and Roe Ethridge and published by Vice (I'm as surprised as you are, really) two years ago. I only saw them this morning, so pat on the back for me, for being so on it! 

Basically the premise is a letter between two girls in which the writer Sandy asks the recipient Julie if she ever feels like an extra in her own life. There follows a series of film stills from Kramer Vs. Kramer, Grease, Dog Day Afternoon and others, each coupled with an image of July recreating one of the peripheral figures in identical costume and posture. 

By removing the main characters and situation from the scene, we're left with people who look small by contrast but who, at the same time, are very much immersed in their own lives. The feeling that you don't matter, that the 'big stuff' happens to the people around you and never you is, I suspect, something that is universally felt from time to time. This series draws that feeling out, puts it in the centre of the frame, and by doing so seems to gently suggest that however much you feel you are "in the background" (literally, for these unnamed characters), you are still immersed in life (your own, of course), that there is dignity, playfulness, drama, and focus to be found there. I found it a tender, carefully realised and surprisingly powerful series.

Image by Miranda July and Roe Ethridge

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