Shia LaBeouf, along with two collaborators, is accepting phone calls at an art gallery in Liverpool, U.K. You can call them now at +44 (0)151 808 0771.
"Over the next four days, LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner invite you to pick up your telephone and touch their soul on +44 (0)151 808 0771 between the hours of 11am – 6pm GMT," the official website states. There is a live broadcast of the event, if you'd like to watch. There doesn't seem to be any audio, so whatever is said remains between LaBeouf, the artists he's working with and the person calling.
LaBeouf's last art installation was called #AllMyMovies, and the work consisted of Shia LaBeouf sitting in a movie theater and watching all of his films in reverse chronological order. You could enter the theater free of charge and watch with him, and that event was also livestreamed, although there was no audio there either.
Why is LaBeouf doing this?
Shia LaBeouf is a big star, no matter how you slice it, and his latest work seems aimed at deconstructing that idea. He has a bit of history in lifting the ideas of others, and his reaction seems to be this ongoing need to offer access to himself, while at the same time controlling the environment. You could sit and watch movies with him, but you had to be searched first, and there was a line to get in.
These experiments don't always go smoothly. In a previous art installation he claims he was assaulted. Screen Junkies filmed an awkward, confrontational encounter, and it's hard to watch. It should also be noted that many of the concepts he's exploring here aren't exactly new in the world of performance art.
The #AllMyMovies event seemed much more celebratory, however.
"Yes it’s a film festival where you’re watching all of my movies, but a lot of this stuff—especially Even Stevens … the Even Stevens Movie was interesting, it’s all of our childhood. It’s mine and it’s yours," he explained in a recent interview about the work.
"It wasn’t just me smiling like that. If you look at the freeze frames, everyone is smiling like wow, I remember Beans. I remember that stupid-ass song. We were all looking at our yearbook together and we’re all in the yearbook. It felt like family, we were sitting there like a high school class," he continued.
This latest installation is a bit more personal, because you can speak directly to the actor, but whatever you say will be between the two of you and anyone at the gallery who may be listening to his side of the conversation. What would you say to Shia LaBeouf? Why would you say anything?
These works — and I'm a bit ashamed to admit how often I think about them — all hinge on some sort of shared experience or idea of intimacy with someone known by millions of people. The draw is that you get to interact with a Hollywood star, but the interaction itself is intensely human. LaBeouf is taking from you as much as he's giving back, and that levels the psychic playing field somewhat. It's fascinating.
Go ahead, give him a call. Find out what you have to say.