Brain Food #628

The labels we set for ourselves

Thoughts of the day

American artist Bruce Nauman is known for his neon light pieces. Neon makes topics once only reserved for the elite (including art itself) available to the general, ‘consumerist’ public.

Talking about his piece The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths, Nauman focuses more on the message, less on the medium:

“The most difficult thing about the whole piece for me was the statement. It was a kind of test—like when you say something out loud to see if you believe it. Once written down, I could see that the statement [...] was on the one hand a totally silly idea and yet, on the other hand, I believed it. It's true and not true at the same time. It depends on how you interpret it and how seriously you take yourself. For me it's still a very strong thought.”

What makes someone a ‘true artist’, though?

Just as the concept of art does not have to be an exclusive one, neither does the idea of being the person making a piece, or something else, need to be impossible to access, or determined externally.

It is through the act of doing something that we build our identity. And with an unlimited set of tools available to us, who we become is not something to be decided externally, but to come from within. As Nauman said, “If I was an artist and I was in the studio, then whatever I was doing in the studio must be art. At this point art became more of an activity and less of a product.”

And this applies to all of us. If you want to be seen as a writer, write. If you want to be seen as a musician, make music. If you want to be seen as a founder, go found something. We are used to requiring stamps of approval, when all we need to do is just to take a step forward.