Why Miranda July Wants to Read Your Personal Email

Miranda July wants to read your email.

Miranda July wants to read your email. Or rather, she wants to read Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lena Dunham, and Kirsten Dunst's personal emails to their friends and loved ones. Since she's Miranda July, these high-profile folks let her. And out of this correspondence, July has launched the art project We Think Alone that will only exist in your inbox, as a "themed compendium of 10 emails" to arrive each Monday, from July 1 to November 11, 2013.

July explains, "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. WE THINK ALONE has given me the excuse to read my friends’ emails and the emails of some people I wish I was friends with and for better or worse it’s changed the way I see all of them. I think I really know them now."

Being privy to this kind of intimate communication reveals a lot about who that person really is, says the artist. "Our inner life is not actually the same thing as our life on the computer—a quiet person might !!!! a lot. A person with a busy mind might write almost nothing. And of course while none of these emails were originally intended to be read by me (much less you*) they were all carefully selected by their authors in response to my list of email genres—so self-portraiture is quietly at work here."

Given the recent NSA revelations, this project couldn't be more timely. Only in this case, the subjects openly divulged their private information. But with that, July investigates what contemporary communication says about who we are, and how this will change over time: "Privacy, the art of it, is evolving. Radical self-exposure and classically manicured discretion can both be powerful, both be elegant. And email itself is changing, none of us use it exactly the same way we did ten years ago; in another ten years we might not use it at all."

Interested in reading Lena Dunham's email? Sign up at Click here to add this to your To-Do list.

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