In March of 2010 I was 15 years old and had flown from my hometown of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, to New York City with 20 other art students from my high school. The day was cold and overcast as we walked through the Museum of Modern Art's glass doors, our clueless tour guide trying to help our rambunctious crew navigate.
I saw signs for an exhibition called "The Artist is Present" by Marina Abramovic, a show the guide deemed too inappropriate for us to walk through. But as the work of good contemporary artists suggests, rules are just extremely loose, breakable guidelines—so I made my way up to the sixth floor.
The exhibition became one of the most important retrospectives in the museum's history, a collection of bizarre performance artworks that forced viewers outside of their comfort zone. Case in point, a nude man and woman stood in the entrance, and I had to squeeze between them to get into the space.
In the years following that moment, I have made it through art school, refined my artistic vocabulary by pushing through dense academic art writings, and attended art fairs and exhibitions. However, my favorite word to describe the avant-garde always has been and will continue to be "weird." The term "weird" is subjective, yes. It kind of means nothing other than the departure from the status quo. But we know what weird is when we see it. Usually weird things are the best things we see all day.
Below are the weird artworks that changed how I think of contemporary art.