Shia LaBeouf has changed considerably from his days as a Disney channel child star. Louis Stevens, as his Even Stevens character was known, was a quirky, good-hearted goof whose biggest concerns were hanging out with friends and impressing his on-again off-again crush, Tawny Dean. Oh, and keeping Beans out of the house. How does that kid do it?
These days, Mr. LaBeouf isn’t interested in family comedy. He hardly seems interested in making great films anymore. No, what concerns Shia these days is performance art. He eschews typical Hollywood PR and makes himself appear to be a total train wreck—but like Joaquin Phoenix’s brief descent into madness, there are plenty of hints he’s still at the switchboard.
LaBeouf’s latest public art project, #ALLMYMOVIES, has him watching every film in which he’s made an appearance in reverse chronological order. But it’s not just an exhibition for patrons to the Angelika theater, it was also broadcast over live stream for the entire world to see. The stream remained fixed on LaBeouf’s face for the entire three day run. Not much happened, but the world was able to get a few quality .gif files out of the event.
Such as this one of LaBeouf eating popcorn:
This all begs a question, at least in some of our minds, as to why LaBeouf would set this project up? Why would he live stream his reactions to his own films? Is it pure narcissism? Was he just bored and felt like watching Holes again?
That last theory doesn’t hold water once you realize he’d also have to sit through all three of those dreadful Transformers movies first.
I can’t speak much about the art itself. I can’t say I fully comprehend LaBeouf’s vision for this exhibition, other than that it’s probably a commentary on narcissism itself. Think about it: there he is, watching his own performances on a massive theater screen for three days straight, all the while thousands of curious spectators look in with disbelief and confusion. It’s actually a nice canvas of concepts if you’ve got the sense for it.
As to the question of why he would live stream this exhibition, the answer has to do with the ever-evolving times. In the past, experimental artists were relegated to specific museums and installations, where their work might be roundly appreciated by studied colleagues but met with confusion from everybody else. That’s experimental art for you.
Now, a celebrity like LaBeouf has built-in traction on social media and with the press. This is a captive audience LaBeouf can poke and prod. The rise of hashtag culture could actually change the face of public art, or at least usher in a new era of it. A hashtag can become the destination for an exhibition which requires no ticket, and no travel. They can spring up and disappear, they can remain forever—but they’ll probably always leave us scratching our heads at what it all means. This is not the commercialization of art, it is the exploitation of celebrity.
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