WOMAN WITH A CAMERA
Miranda July and Julia Bryan-Wilson
MJ: But what [The Getty curator Glenn Phillips] really cared about was that this collection of women’s work fit perfectly into their archives of feminist video collectives. I walked out of that meeting a little tearful, realizing that they were specifically looking for voices that wouldn’t be represented anywhere else and wouldn’t necessarily be saved or valued.
JBW: Last fall, the Getty also acquired the Harmony Hammond archives. They are increasingly demonstrating a commitment to preserving feminist and queer archives that embrace defiantly homegrown, non–“high art” material.
MJ: It’s exciting to see. After almost a decade, I stepped away from the project to focus on making my first feature [Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)]. At the Sundance Film Festival, there was only one other movie made by a woman in competition for the Grand Jury Prize, out of sixteen. When you come out of nowhere as a woman with a feature film, everyone wants an explanation. How could you have had the balls to do that? The answer was [Joanie 4 Jackie]. These women filmmakers that I had surrounded myself with were my primary reality. It was a shock to realize we didn’t change the world. In fact, it still really sucks out here. That’s when I decided I should probably make the archive public, through a new website and with a permanent institutional home.
JBW: J4J did have an impact on many of the people who were involved in some way, such as Astria Suparak, K8 Hardy, and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro. The project, and our friendship, also shaped my own interest in feminist, alternative, and amateur production. Insisting that the biographical and the critical should not be divorced is a queer method of history—one beautifully enacted in recently published writings by Hilton Als, Douglas Crimp, and Maggie Nelson. For me, J4J made legible how personal relationships and artistic/scholarly work feed and structure each other.
MJ: Yeah. Even though it’s pretty embarrassing to look back at us as twenty-two-year-olds, the handmade grandiosity of J4J was crucial: If you’re starving for something, there are probably a lot of other people who need it too.
Read in full at Artforum.com: https://www.artforum.com/inprint/issue=201702&id=66054