A Teen Became An Artist By Leaving His Glasses On The Floor Of An Art Museum

Life imitates art. Sometimes life imitates art so well it circles back into art and the lines of separation no longer exist. The blurred lines of art and imitation converged earlier this week when a teenager placed his glasses on the floor of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and viewers mistook it for art. But really, were they mistaken?

The 17-year-old behind the art-masked-as-prank TJ Khayatan told Buzzfeed that he and his friends genuinely enjoyed the exhibits at SFMOMA, but that didn’t stop him from feeling compelled to play with the lines of modern art.

“Upon first arrival we were quite impressed with the artwork and paintings presented in the huge facility. However, some of the ‘art’ wasn’t very surprising to some of us. We stumbled upon a stuffed animal on a gray blanket and questioned if this was really impressive to some of the nearby people.”

It was the stuffed animal wrapped in a blanket that inspired Khayatan and his friends to test the lines of curated art and social experiment by placing TJ’s glasses on the gallery floor. They soon found out that the precedent of the museum made it so that onlookers immediately accepted the glasses on the floor as art, and really, why shouldn’t they?!

Khayatan and his friends not only documented the glasses on the gallery floor, but the onslaught of art-viewers taking pictures of the glasses provided a multi-layered collection of meta tweets. Of course the joke is exposing how the prank of putting his glasses on the floor was immediately accepted as a piece of modern art (the blanket genre of art people often casually dislike), but honestly – wasn’t this experiment art in itself?

The purpose of most modern art is to fuck with viewers conceptually (rather than focusing on figurative beauty), so in a sense, TJ’s trolling was the ultimate successful modern art piece, and he’s smart enough to know that given this isn’t the first time he’s pulled this type of stunt.

A few months ago he put his hat in the corner of a gallery, receiving similar results from viewers who treated the hat as art, keeping their doubts and criticisms quiet as they took photos and whispered.

While many will see this prank and think of it as an example of why Art Is Bullshit, or assume that the teens involved were purely making fun of the museum, I think it serves as a smart and playful way of pointing out how context creates our perception of art. Also, it’s just fucking funny.