I was a coward. Here's why. | STFO 🤘

I don't remember much from my teenage years, but I remember this high-school trip pretty well. We were visiting the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMC) in Saint-Etienne (one hour from my hometown, Clermont-Ferrand):

The space itself is a 3,000 m² mix of exposed brick+steel+glass. (For Americans who don't know what the metric system means, it's roughly the size of 75 NBA basketball courts laid side-by-side.)

My friends and I spent the entire visit making fun of pretty much every art piece we came across, “I, too, could paint that blue square!! I could also buy a toilet and bring it here!! Or tape a banana to a wall!! It's easy.

Nearly two decades have passed, and I still cringe about that day because I was a coward... Because art—real art—takes COURAGE. And I took it for granted.

For example, did you know that Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain," a urinal turned art piece, was submitted to an “open” exhibition, then rejected, proving a point about gatekeeping in art?

Or that Robert Ryman's White Paintings exist to help us rethink what we expect from art and pay attention to the small stuff?

Or that Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project was a big, bright wake-up call about climate change and our place in the universe?

Or that Marina Abramović simply sitting and staring at visitors for hours was a performance questioning art’s limits, social norms, and the value of time?

Real art means something.

It’s questioning the status quo, the norm. It’s helping us break away from the daily grind and question what we take for granted.

That’s why I believe everything that stands the f*ck out is art. It doesn’t have to be a Renaissance painting. It doesn’t have to be an Ancient Greek marble sculpture. It could be a podcast episode, a newsletter issue, or a TV ad.

As long as you confront your fear and make stuff in the hope that it creates change for others, you’re an artist. Don't let cowards tell you otherwise.