Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Watching Shia LaBeouf do nothing is now an actual art exhibit in L.A.

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If you’re already lamenting that you missed out on Dumb Starbucks, another performance art exhibit about the inherent emptiness of performance art, all perpetrated behind the face of a huge corporate tool, is also underway in Los Angeles. The Cohen Gallery is currently hosting an installation titled “#IAMSORRY,” a collaboration between Shia LaBeouf, “metamodernist” philosopher Luke Turner, and Finnish performance artist Nastja Säde Rönkkö that runs Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. During those hours you’ll find Shia LaBeouf sitting silently in a room—wearing the tuxedo and “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE” paper bag he donned for a recent Nymphomaniac screening—presenting himself for your scrutiny, his penitence, and everyone’s collective exhaustion. As many have already noted, it’s a lot like Marina Abramovic’s piece “The Artist Is Present,” in that it is another thing LaBeouf has deliberately plagiarized from her.


More than just the chance to personally ensure that Shia LaBeouf does nothing for a whole day, reports from those who have gone say attendees are also asked to choose from an array of “implements” that make the exhibit interactive. Some of these are props related to LaBeouf’s past “work,” such as a leather whip (referring to Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull), an Optimus Prime toy (referring to why we know who Shia LaBeouf is), and a copy of Daniel Clowes’ The Death-Ray (referring to why this is all happening and doesn’t show any signs of stopping).

Others are genuine instruments of torture, including pliers and a “bowl of folded slips of paper containing tweets about LaBeouf” that you can then read to him, or perhaps turn into a blog post. Others are random niceties, such as a vase of daisies, a bottle of Brut cologne, a bowl of Hershey’s kisses, and “a pink ukulele,” in case you want to woo Shia LaBeouf into being your valentine with the semiotics of traditional romantic relationships, or torture him by playing the ukulele. There’s also “a large bottle of Jack Daniels,” in case you want one. I want one.

Reviews from those who have actually made it inside (many of them collected on Twitter, under the #IAMSORRY hashtag) have been understandably mixed. Vulture’s Kyle Buchanan wrote a detailed report of his own encounter that says he and a friend both moved LaBeouf to visible tears—much like Abramovic was known to cry in her own piece, suggesting LaBeouf has at last transcended to being able to plagiarize human emotions. But BuzzFeed’s Mike Spohr got no reaction even after he asked to remove LaBeouf’s bag, which at least allowed him to confirm that the person in the exhibit was actually Shia LaBeouf. Of course, this was already confirmed by the fact that he wasn’t doing or saying anything interesting.