Email Art Project Peeks Inside Celebrities’ Inboxes

Artist Miranda July’s ‘We Think Alone’ project consists of weekly emails from notable people on personal topics like money and advice.

Multihyphenate Miranda July’s latest art project is a study in intimacy and mundanity. For 20 weeks, anyone who signs up to ‘We Think Alone’ will receive an email that contains within it emails from 10 well-known (and some lesser known) names, focusing on a different topic each week. While the celebrity aspect — with Lena Dunham, Kirsten Dunst and Kareem Abdul-Jabar all participating — has caught the media’s attention, it is July’s hope that as the weeks progress, readers will see beyond the names in their inbox and see the humanity that can be gleaned from something as clerical as an email.

July, a performance artist/actor/writer/director, was commissioned by Stockholm’s Magasin 3 Museum to create a project using the medium of email. But instead of composing original emails herself, July thought to curate from what was already out there. As she told Fast Co.Create:

I think they expected me to write something or make something, since I’m a writer and an artist. But I thought, Well, why do that, since there’s already an infinite amount of very interesting, ready-made material?

The first week’s email was on the topic of money, where voyeurs learned that Lena Dunham thinks $24,000 for a couch is too expensive and that Israeli writer Etgar Keret is worried about asking for too much for his next project.

While July was savvy enough to include recognizable celebrity names in the project – the 1st email had 70,000 subscribers – she insists that celebrity is a minor part of the project. Other participants include writers, fashion designers and a theoretical physicist, and despite their job, they are all human and all communicate in varying ways. She says:

The-stars-are-just-like-us’ thing! Yeah, I get that there’s kind of no way around that feeling. But I have a limited amount of thoughts on that territory. I guess what’s more interesting to me is not just getting to see that they’re just like us, but getting to see who they are–that no one is actually ‘just like us.’ Everyone is a specific person living their life, with their own humanity or whatever, and I feel like, over time, that’s more what you’ll experience than just that little fizz of connecting it to yourself.

We Think Alone

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