It’s easy to make fun of Shia LaBeouf’s self-proclaimed performance art. Even when his pieces, if they can be called that, aren’t cringe-inducing - a la the time he wore a bag on his head that read ‘‘I am not famous anymore’’ - they can often lead to downer results.
After all, LaBeouf said he was raped during a piece called ‘‘#IAmSorry,’’ in which he sat silently in a room and, more or less, let his audience/participants do whatever they wanted with him. Even if the piece could be compared to the iconic work of Chris Burden or Marina Abramovic, that’s no fun.
‘‘One woman who came with her boyfriend, who was outside the door when this happened, whipped my legs for 10 minutes and then stripped my clothing and proceeded to rape me,’’ he wrote of the encounter. ‘‘There were hundreds of people in line when she walked out with disheveled hair and smudged lipstick. It was no good, not just for me but her man as well.’’
‘‘#AllMyMovies,’’ LaBeouf’s current piece and another collaboration with Luke Turner and Säde Rönkkö of ‘‘#IAmSorry,’’ is a lot less heavy and a lot more fun. From about 12 p.m. on Nov. 10 until about 7 p.m. on Nov. 12, LaBeouf will be watching all of his films, in reverse chronological order, at the Angelika Film Center in New York City. Admission is free, and a livestream of LaBeouf watching his work will run the whole time. The livestream can be seen at http://newhive.com/allmymovies.
As of early Wednesday morning, LaBeouf had only been at this for about 14 hours - and unfortunately, this enterprising reporter missed his reaction to some of his most controversial, explicit work: Lars von Trier’s ‘‘Nymphomaniac’’ films, which include hardcore sex scenes shot with ‘‘digitally added porn doubles,’’ as MTV put it last year. It would have been interesting to see LaBeouf’s response to such raw material; instead, we would have to see if he fell asleep - as many did - during the wretched ‘‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’’ sometime around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.
(Around 3 a.m., LaBeouf made a controversial move for a performance artist: He took about a 90-minute break, disappearing - apparently during ‘‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’’ - despite the fact that he is supposed to be in his seat ‘‘24 hours a day.’’ However, he was back in his seat at around 5 a.m., ready to watch ‘‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.”)
‘‘I think it’s so interesting the way Shia’s reclaiming his career,’’ Erik Rogers, also a performance artist, told Gothamist at the theater. ‘‘I’ll be interested to see how he’s reacting to his own stuff, because I think he’s going to amp up the performance of like, this is me watching my own film, particularly in ‘Nymphomaniac,’ where he’s got some kinda questionable scenes.’’
So - is this terrible, or interesting? Sometimes LaBeouf rubs his beard. Sometimes he smiles. Sometimes he seems about to nod off. And sometimes he briefly leaves, presumably to go to the bathroom or grab a snack. Can this be art?
Why not? One could say LaBeouf’s piece, or stunt, is the ultimate exercise in narcissism - a ploy by a whimsical, troubled celebrity who’s spent time in rehab. But ‘‘#AllMyMovies’’ isn’t wholly unlike Andy Warhol’s static film works such as ‘‘Empire’’ - an eight-hour shot of the Empire State Building - and his ‘‘screen test’’ portraits of Nico and Dennis Hopper, among other luminaries and hangers-on.
‘‘It’s probably art as much as the other things he’s been doing recently are art,’’ Kevin Flynn told Gothamist. ‘‘I’d be interested to know what his intention is by doing this, like, if he’s wondering if people are coming to see the films or him. I bet that’s probably part of it. So I mean, if it’s causing a dialogue in that respect, it’s probably classified as art. I don’t know if it’s traditional but, yeah it’s definitely something.’’
Also, while some of LaBeouf’s previous work seemed to rub his A-list status in the face of viewers, ‘‘#AllMyMovies’’ includes them. ‘‘Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,’’ for example, grossed well over $300 million dollars. In a strange way, LaBeouf’s art project seems to celebrate a work innumerable people around the world have enjoyed, even if it’s not a great one. And until Harrison Ford posts a livestream of himself watching his oeuvre, this is all we’ve got.
Meanwhile, who hasn’t turned around in a movie theater and been delighted by the smiling faces of an audience engrossed in a movie?