‘We Think Alone’: Strange and Beautiful Thus Far

Earlier this summer, we profiled Miranda July in honor of her upcoming project, “We Think Alone.” The art installation is one that, if participating, takes place right in your email inbox, where weekly emails are forwarded to you from famous public figures, courtesy of July. Each week a particular theme unifies the various emails, which range from trivial quips to in-depth correspondences.

In “We Think Alone” the emails are the art, the artists are the emails’ authors, Miranda July is the executive curator, your own inbox is the museum, and you are the viewer. To date, the project has exposed interesting, often wildly out-of-context, and poignant, heartfelt email exchanges. It’s fascinating being able to have a glimpse into a stranger’s life, but that idea in and of itself is what drives most of July’s work. Of her newest project the filmmaker and writer says, “I’m always trying to get my friends to forward me emails they’ve sent to other people — to their mom, their boyfriend, their agent — the more mundane the better. How they comport themselves in email is so intimate, almost obscene — a glimpse of them from their own point of view.” Being privy to another person’s private correspondence feels remarkably intimate, even if, as July suggests, those exchanged words appear mundane.

Inbox - We Think Alone project

Miranda July’s newest project, “We Think Alone,” uses inboxes for canvases.
Image: Shutterstock

Some of the themes of the weekly email installations have been week five’s “An email about something you want,” week seven’s strange and comical exhibit of emails that “Include a dream you had,” and week nine’s “An email about what you’re working on.” Reading emails that abstractly or blatantly tie into these themes creates an interesting experience that reveals just how different, and how similar strangers can be. Notable emails include compassionate relationship advice to a friend from Lena Dunham, a sweet set of curated emails sent to the participants’ mothers, an adorable kitten sleeping on a computer keyboard forwarded from the designers of Rodarte, and sage advice like “Never neglect your studies for basketball” from Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

As the Huffington Post reports, “Thus far, no huge secrets have been revealed, but sometimes a misplaced punctuation mark or particular turn of phrase offers a rare rough sketch of an often polished persona.” Indeed, it is fascinating to be able to peer into the lives of other people – notable public figures – and see that in some mediums, we are all truly alike.

There is still a chance to sign up for “We Think Alone” before the project is over. Head on over to the project website to do so!



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