Miranda July


talks with

Jockum Nordstrom


Parts of July’s movie Me and You and Everyone We Know that struck Nordstrom for whatever reason:
The Macaroni Woman in the park with the little boy
The face of the old man who also appeared in
Three Amigos
The two young girls he feared were going to have sex with some man

Miranda July might be a performance artist who makes films, a filmmaker who writes fiction, or an author who creates performance art. Or perhaps the idea of being defined by just one of these forms is precisely what she’d most like to avoid as she travels fluidly through each medium, transferring the attributes of one into another with seamless grace. Her keen deployment of narrative keeps her performance work from feeling dry and excessively theory-driven, and her films resonate with an artfulness largely missing from contemporary cinema. Her work has been featured in the past two Whitney Biennial exhibitions, and her directorial debut, Me and You and Everyone We Know received the Camera D’Or at Cannes as well as a special jury prize for originality of vision at Sundance. She did not, as a child, feed Cheetos to other, younger, children.

Jockum Nordstrom was born in and lives in Stockholm, where he makes drawings of ships, tiny dioramas of cities, and men in uncomfortable suits, all rendered in a deliberately crude folk-art style. His compositions are spatially dimensionless, but the figures that populate his odd, rickety landscapes are vividly—even lewdly—robust, the rich mysteries of their private lives pooling suggestively in the impossibly steep and cavernous rooms through which they move. These might be the banished mating diagrams of the early settlers—swiftly illustrated erotic comedies that barely made the leap from the elaborate theater inside Nordstrom’s head to the collage-laden page.

In September 2005, July met with Nordstrom in Manhattan. July had just returned from the French opening of her film, and was visiting New York for a premiere, and Nordstrom was in the U.S. to attend a wedding on Long Island. They wandered the Lower East Side, eventually settling in Nordstrom’s hotel room for a conversation on art, the deceptive warmth of Spain, and a group of tourists they followed around and dubbed “the Tribe.”


MIRANDA JULY: It’s funny, I realized with all the sexual things going on in your work, I think that because you’re a man and these are drawings, you get a little more of the space that I wish I had.

JOCKUM NORDSTROM: Because drawing is more private, and to do what you do you must have actors, and you must have…

MJ: But even if it’s a short story, I realize—I’ll write a story and I’ll realize, sometimes I forget to say that this woman—she’s not thirty-one, she’s fifty-five, and she doesn’t look like me. I forget to describe her. And then I realize that when people read the story they’re picturing me as the protagonist. So then, when they read this sexual passage, it’s totally wrong. That’s why your space is so appealing to me.

JN: I think for me, I take one picture at a time. It’s not so much about making a room. It’s more like the one picture. I think a lot about how the drawing looks on the paper, but it’s also about relationships and memories and something that’s behind you, but you can’t talk about it. And you can’t find it every day. You can find it when you’re really in it. I think the picture and the speaking language are very different.

MJ: Yeah, I often feel like if I could say it, what it was, I wouldn’t have to make the movie—the movie is the thing. It’s the feeling, and to try and say what it is would be really clumsy.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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Miranda July writes fiction and makes movies and performances. She lives in Los Angeles.

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