Crazy Artist of the Month: Shia LaBeouf

Posted on December 30th, 2015

Guys, we need to talk about Shia LaBeouf. Ok, ok, more importantly I need to talk about Shia LaBeouf. Not only because The Public House of Art has asked me to write a post about a crazy artist of my choice, no, because I think I kinda get him, and I’m unsure about how that makes me feel as a person.


To get some context we need to scoot back in time a little, let’s say about 15 years, to the year 2000. I’m 10 years old, I religiously watch CBBC (fellow Brits, you know what I mean) every day after school, Even Stevens is on the air, and I’ve got a fuzzy feeling about Steven, AKA a-dork-able, prepubescent Shia LaBoeuf.

Source: http://moviepilot.com/posts/2797217

But let’s not dwindle on my childhood crushes - plus that rat tail is something I certainly cannot forgive. Instead let’s brush aside most of the crazy and talk about LaBeouf’s most recent performance piece, #ALLMYMOVIES, created alongside artists Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö. Last month LaBeouf sat through this epic movie marathon wearing TWO jackets - seriously, what was going on with the aircon in that cinema? - whilst livestreaming his own reactions to the reverse chronological retrospective of his movie career.

Image Credit: LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner   Source: http://newhive.com/allmymovies

The Guardian called it “mixing the endurance efforts of David Blaine with an existential Hollywood onanism that’s rarely allowed out of doors”. And before you rush to ask Google to define ‘onanism’, as I just did, let me save you the energy and tell you now that an onanism is ‘a spillage of semen’ - pretty harsh, right? However, I actually find the focus on LaBeouf’s face throughout the piece pretty fascinating. Isn’t the cinema the place we go to sit in the dark, stuff our faces with popcorn, and overtly pick our noses with the care-free joy that nobody is looking at us? There’s a unique vulnerability to be seen in watching someone in that position, and I think it’s something that makes LaBeouf more accessible, more human.

Image Credit: LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner   Source: http://newhive.com/allmymovies  

Instead of the spectator holding the domineering position of voyeur of the film, LaBeouf falls subject to voyeurism in #ALLMYMOVIES as this raw state of being, that normally nobody can see, is revealed. And what’s more, LaBeouf is not only the subject of voyeurism through his performance piece, but he is so whilst playing the role of voyeur by watching himself on the screen, where his character is subjected to voyeurism not only by everybody else in the audience but also by the camera and the other characters he interacts with on screen - suddenly what has been referred to as an eccentric publicity stunt starts to have hella layers of meaning!

Image Credit: LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner   Source: http://newhive.com/allmymovies

LaBeouf might often be referred to as a dilettante, and after his motivational speech turned viral GIF I was starting to believe it. But there’s something he’s said about #ALLMYMOVIES that makes me think I might be right not to sign him off as a displaced product of child stardom. "Not just in art but in songs, in movies, in theater, what makes it great is when there’s a shared secret in the room," he says. "And what happened in that room for those couple of days was we all shared something; we knew it to be true, we didn’t need to explain it to one another, and that made it awesome." And to that I say fucking Amen! Isn’t that the joy of cinema? The way a whole room of strangers comes together and puts their real-life worries aside for a couple of hours to lose themselves in a completely fictional world. We all sit in silence and we all share the moment then we all strap our burdens back on and head back into reality, never acknowledging the moment we just shared. But Shia (I know, first name terms) used this barrier to connect, to draw attention to that unique intimacy we all share between the lights going down and the credits coming up.

Instead of making a joke of the film industry, he’s celebrating cinema and those precious moments we can all relate to. What’s more, echoing The Public House of Art’s mantra, LaBeouf himself has said “I think it’s sad when you have to be art educated to enjoy art. I don’t think that’s very good art.” And that, guys, is why I think Shia LaBeouf might just have won me over. Now, excuse me while I go and YouTube old episodes of Even Stevens.

Written by Amsterdam based freelance writer Robyn Collinge for The Public House of Art

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