Miranda July is perhaps best known as a director and writer but her art sort of spills over any conventional notions of media category. She recently released an app, for example, that allows strangers to deliver intimate, in-person messages to each other. So her latest endeavor might seem almost mundane. It’s a novel–her first–called The First Bad Man. It’s about a lonely romantic who believes she has been sleeping with a co-worker throughout numerous past lives. (She and said co-worker have yet to get it on in the present.) But not surprisingly, July has turned her book promotion into July-style performance art. She is auctioning off artifacts from the novel and donating the proceeds to The National Partnership for Women and Families, which promotes equality in the work place, reproductive rights, and affordable health care.
If any other author attempted to sell a $1-bill-cum-bobby-pin (the pairing has already sold for $103) or a key attached to a plastic duck (bidding starts on December 10), they’d be laughed clear off the literary scene. But July’s M.O. is all about infusing the basic and boring with creative meaning. What meaning, you may ask? You’ll probably have to read the book to know; it debuts on January 13. But in the meantime, you can bid on an ugly purple T-shirt that says “bump, set, spike it” (current bid is $44) and a white hanky (current bid $46). Dozens of items in the auction will go on sale in the coming days, including a purple bra (size undisclosed) and a miniature skiing elf. Each artifact comes in a package that includes the page number and quotation in which the item is referenced in the novel. It is also “verified” as authentic with July’s signature. It’s a fun addition to her oeuvre, though for $103, you’d better take care not to loose that bobby pin.