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Shia LaBeouf has been doing a lot of off-kilter things lately, wouldn't you agree?
The Nymphomaniac actor has walked out of a press conference & appeared on the red carpet with a bag on his head, tried to retire from the spotlight, went on an adventure around LAX, and proclaimed himself a performance artist.
Well, his performance art has come to fruition — and we were there to experience it.
Yesterday, Shia began his piece at an LA art studio titled #IAMSORRY, (which is heavily influenced by Marina Abramović's The Artist Is In), and let us tell you, it was an experience that we never, EVER expected.
We arrived at the gallery around 3:30p.m., not expecting to wait TOO long to enter the exhibit. We were wrong; it was two and a half hours before we were let in.
As of yesterday, the length of your stay inside the room with Shia was not limited. We imagine that policy will change after one person ahead of us took a full hour. As you're let in one at a time, there was really nothing for the rest of us to do but wait.
Oh, and the "us" in line included Daryl Sabara, who is probably best known for his role as Juni Cortez in the Spy Kids movies!
When the time finally came for our turn, we were informed we would be the last visitor of the day. Juni Cortez was not destined to chat with Louis Stevens.
As we entered, we were greeted by a friendly Finnish woman, who stood with a big smile on her face. (She was probably happy we were the last visitor of the day.)
She waved her arm and said:
"You may pick one item from the table and bring it in with you. Take your time."
On the table was, as the performance proposal stated, a variety of things.
An Indiana Jones whip. A bottle of Jack Daniels. A bowl of Hershey Kisses. Pliers. A bottle of Brut cologne. A Transformers toy. A bowl filled with pieces of paper with Twitter comments on them. A book by Daniel Clowes.
We panicked a bit and took the Transformers toy more so as something for our hands to fiddle with.
Then, the curtain was drawn for us to reveal a room no bigger than a walk in closet and Shia, quiet and still, sitting at a haphazardly built table.
Dressed in a tuxedo and the now iconic "I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE" paper bag atop his head, Shia did not greet us, but we could see it had been a long day for him. The bag covering his face was ripped below his eyes, probably having disintegrated from his tears.
Our experience, which we had zero emotional expectations about beforehand, began like this:
"Well, hi Shia. We're your last person of the day. You did it."
"This is actually kind of awkward."
"We have to admit, we used to watch Even Stevens all the time and we loved you in it."
[Silence & a smile]
From there, the experience, though awkward and strange, was truthfully quite raw & emotional — for Shia. Surprisingly, our one-sided monologue caused Shia to shed at least one tear.
At one point, we reached out to his hand and grabbed it. He squeezed it back hard.
Finally, after a minute or so of rambling, we urged Shia to see the project through:
"Most people, including us if we're being honest, don't believe that you will be sitting here during the entire time. Prove us all wrong and see this thing through."
Shia, surprisingly, stared straight into our eyes, smiled again and nodded in silence.
We stood up to go and as an after thought turned to him and asked, almost jokingly:
"Can we have your bag?"
To our complete and utter surprise, he whipped the bag off and handed it to us with a wide, genuine smile.
In the shock of the moment, with the bag in hand, we leaned in and asked whether we could hug him.
He stood up immediately and held us tightly for a brief moment before smiling at us as we exited.
As we walked through the curtain, the woman appeared again with a smile and asked for the Transformer toy back.
We happily handed it to her and she said, "I'm sorry, but I need that too," motioning at the bag.
We protested heavily, arguing that Shia had gifted it to us, and that we wouldn't show anyone, but alas, we were not destined to claim ownership, and we sadly, handed back the now infamous, ripped, brown paper bag. In hindsight, we understand that if the woman had let US walk out with it, then every other person who visited the piece would have wanted their own bag, but it was still a bummer.
Overall, this whole thing could be a publicity stunt or Shia method acting for a role, or possibly just him trying to escape the scrutiny & controversy of plagiarizing Daniel Clowes.
However, whether it was Shia being genuine or merely acting, he succeeded in creating something that almost forces you to show empathy towards him, whether you feel that way or not.
And for THAT, we applaud him.
[Image via Instagram.]