Art that was not

When I was 15 years old I went to Paris. It was my first time there so I had researched beforehand all the things I needed to do and museums to go to in order to have the full tourist experience. I had idealized my visit to Paris long ago, but since I didn’t know anyone I decided to try to do that and then take it from there, see where the city took me. I went up to the Eiffel Tower to see the city from above, walked by the shops on Champs-Élysées, sat on a sidewalk café to have a noisette while people watching, walked up Montmartre to see the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, and fought the crowds of people to try to take a look at the Mona Lisa.

I had intentionally left going to the Pompidou for last, I wanted to experience the city in somewhat of a chronological order. A city that has been around for so long is inevitably going to amass huge amounts of history, and going through it in that order seemed logical.

Duchamp-Fountain-courtesy-SFMOMA

Stepping off from the escalator I was greeted by an unusual sight. As I looked at what was in front of me I was convinced that some wall was missing, that I wasn’t supposed to be looking at this. I could not believe my eyes. This must be some sort of mistake. How can this be… Art???

But it seemed like it was; the people around me did not mind the mess, and there was the wall text right next to it certifying it’s high status. How strange, I never would have considered an empty white room with a corner full of used plastic cups and other random stuff as anything other than what it was, a corner full of crap. I could not fathom a single reason as to why someone would pile up some things on a corner, and even more perplexing was the fact that it was being displayed in one of the most renowned museums in the world.

I didn’t realize it so clearly back then, but that disorganized corner defined the way I was going to experience the rest of the work inside that museum. It made me ask why. It expanded my concept of what art is, and in the process gave me the freedom to explore it in new and interesting ways. I took wonder in the unbelievable silence of a huge room with walls covered with a waving brown cloth, in the bright colors of an off-register electric chair screen print and in strange and seemingly unintelligible videos in weird looking TV’s. Did viewing this video in a special Sony cube in Paris make it more important that watching it at home in my regular TV? And can you please make me a copy of this tape?

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