Fake it ’til you make it: how to BS your way through an art museum

Illustration by Miceal Munroe-Allsup

*The Backdoor is a “work” of “fiction” and “humor”

By Lluvia Meyreles

It is a daunting experience when someone you like asks you to visit an art museum, especially if that person seems particularly cool. You know, like that person in your SOAN class? The one with the wire rimmed glasses and socks tucked into Birkenstocks. You were hooked when they said “I don’t use Instagram because social media is  totally a form of colonization and oppression.” What an enigma. Are those frameless glasses a fashion statement or not? I get it, I would want answers too. While I cannot tell you if those glasses are, in fact, prescription, I can most definitely show you how to out enigma their enigma. Using a step by step process, I will have you looking like the coolest, most insightful person anyone has ever met. Here is how to bullshit your way through an art museum.

Step 1: Get acquainted with words like: pseudo, biomorphic, amalgams, subaqueous and interpenetrative. Do not waste time looking them up, you do not need to know what they mean because no one else will. They are also not gonna ask, because a hipster never shows weakness. Just sprinkle your sentences with a couple of these words and you will have them looking deep into your eyes and invading your personal space in no time.

Step 2: Say everything really softly — just loud enough so they can hear you, but not enough to show any kind of emotion or enthusiasm. You need to sound indifferent about everything you say. It will look like genius art critique is just second nature to you. Always pause in the middle of sentences, as if you are deeply meditating on what to say next. Bonus points if you scrunch your eyebrows together as if what you are saying is so powerful your face cannot even handle it.

Step 3: If it looks kinda blurry and the artist is French, it is safe to say you are in the Impressionist section of the museum. You can go ahead and start talking about how the use of movement in each work is so evocative. Say that you are favorite impressionist is Edgar Degas, he is famous enough where you will sound like you know things but not as famous as, say, van Gogh, which would make you look like he is the only name you know. Every chance you get to mention ballerinas in Degas’s work, do it.

Step 4: Stop in front of a painting, not an obvious one, but one that seems just a little bit boring. Then say “can we just, like, sit in front of this one for a while? I just want to feel it.” They will be so impressed with your sensitivity that they will question their own intellect. They will spend the entire time attempting to figure out what they are missing from the piece. Under no circumstances are you to let them talk. That will throw them off long enough to get you out of that museum looking like the most artistically informed person in the world.

When you leave the museum they will ask you to hang out. Say no. Say that you need to go home and process the experience you just went through. Then do not come back to class and withdraw from school completely. You really want to keep that air of mystery. Then move to New York to live in an apartment with five roommates. Go to a coffee shop every morning, spend around eight dollars on coffee, and spend the rest of the day using their wifi to promote your activism on Facebook. You do not care that no one uses Facebook anymore, you think it is authentic. It is in that precise moment, that you will reach liberal arts nirvana.

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