"Sometimes it is a relief to be told what to do," the authors of this wonderful, strange photo book explain. "We are two artists who are trying to come up with new ideas every day. But our most joyful and even profound experiences often come when we are following other people's instructions. When we are making crepes from a recipe, attempting to do a handstand in yoga class, or singing someone else's song." With this in mind, Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July started a website in 2002 called Learning to Love You More. In it they provided assignments: Take a picture of your parents kissing; reread your favorite book from fifth grade; write your life story in less than a day; take a flash photo under your bed; and many others. The responses came thick and fast (more than 5,000 and still coming) from all over the world. The authors' favorites are here reproduced, and they are wildly beautiful, imaginative, complex, funny, sad and simple. --L.A. Times--September 26, 2007
Miranda July is a multitalented artist with a larky sense of humor, an entrepreneurial streak, a keen sense
of story, and a flair for collaboration. Her work has appeared in two Whitney Biennials; her indie film, Me
and You and Everyone We Know, garnered prizes at Sundance and Cannes; and her short-story collection,
No One Belongs Here More Than You (2007), won the Frank O Connor Award. In 2002, July and artist
Harrell Fletcher launched an interactive Web site that attracted thousands of participants all around the
world. The premise is disarmingly simple and exponentially fertile. July and Fletcher post assignments on
their site Take a flash photo under your bed ; Reread your favorite book from fifth grade ; Draw the
news. Participants complete the task and send in a report. Fletcher and July then selected the most
playful, heartfelt, funny, cutting, and brilliant photographs, drawings, writings, and constructions to create
this ebullient and trenchant volume, testimony to our inherent creativity, the fire in our minds that fuels our
love of, and need for, expression and connection.
Donna Seaman --Booklist--November 2007
Somewhere along a Los Angeles freeway, a couple have a tense conversation about hamburgers. In Southwick, Mass., three women allow their hair to be braided together, and a Houston resident writes the eventful story of her life in a day. In a bedroom in Sydney, Australia, the dress a young woman wore the day she lost her virginity is laid out on the floor, along with the shoes that, she notes, stayed on for the duration. A sign goes up in a patch of parkland near Penn State detailing the markings and habits that distinguish the common raven from the American crow.
The pages of Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July's Learning to Love You More are filled with such earnest explanations, recorded interactions, humble creative feats, and scraps from memory or fantasy or some complicated combination all of them compiled from the thousands of audio, visual, and textual contributions to Fletcher and July's Web site of the same name.
Begun in 2002, the project was launched with the goal of offering concrete creative inspiration to any and all comers in the form of detailed assignments: to make an encouraging banner or an educational public plaque, to start a lecture series or compose the saddest song, to write down a recent argument or make a neighborhood field recording, to spend time with a dying person or heal oneself.
The past is a minefield and thus ripe for artistic endeavor, and here the weight of memory brings a charge to mundane objects like those clothes laid flat on the floor. So does the weight of regret, as in "Assignment 53: Give advice to yourself in the past," which provokes Wendy in North Carolina to tell her 15- and 16-year-old iterations, "Please eat.You are not 'fat.'"
This and other conversations produce some of the most poignant and painful and pleasurable moments such as Assignment 52's "phone call you wish you could have," which produces two siblings catching up across the mortal coil barrier and a mutual coming-out and profession of love between friends, punctuated by phrases that progress from "Hey, wuddup fool?" to "Fine! I'm gay!" to "I love you too much to hate you." The insubstantial nature of the person on the other end of the line is affecting, whether they're beyond the grave or simply unlikely to answer.
As was Fletcher and July's hope, their project offers the humbling, heart-expanding experience of recognizing that the globe is dotted with original and inventive humans, busy thinking and suffering and wondering about love and making work that turns the world into a more recognizable and yet more startling place when it's seen. * --San Francisco Bay Guardian Online--Wednesday, October 31, 2007
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.