In case you haven’t heard, Shia LaBeouf is in a lift. I am staring at a pair of lift doors, which occasionally open to see a glimpse of gawky conversers. Even as I write this, I’m still listening. And I’m not really sure why. So far people have spoken about odds on (and chortled painfully through my speakers), others have tried to discern exactly what meta-modernism is. LaBeouf patiently conducts his way through, encouraging speech out of some, backing off in others. He looks tired, in the small snatches where we see him. The door opens, and he takes his jumper off, and I wonder whether anytime soon someone will step in and say “hey, let’s sit on the floor, let’s be silent”. But as he notes himself, apparently English people don’t like silence.
At one point they all descend into existentialism. For who are the lab rats? Who is performing? Maybe they’re all scientists? They’re all waiting, whether in a queue, or in the lift. But what about me? I’m not waiting. I’m choosing to listen. There is no delay. Well. I’m waiting to stop listening, so I can start working. And I nearly do. But then I hear Stuart Webber’s tones, asking them to get on to the next person. Suddenly LaBeouf is telling Webber he ain’t being fair. “Man I’m sorry but you can’t do that, that’s not fair you’re making it weird, they can make their own decisions c’mon I know you’re the president of the Oxford Union but you can’t dictate us”. Webber presumably dissipates, and LaBeouf carries on. Fame, after all, controls the Union. This is some performance art.
Everyone wants to be remembered. And LaBeouf seeks someone who stumbles in, and gets their vibe. Or maybe he wishes he never begun. Although, against myself, I sort of trust LaBeouf, and I trust what he’s doing. And although he stands in a small square, in airless air, meeting people who have queued for hours or paid someone in the queue £50 for their spot, he takes it in. When the third person asks him how the three of them (LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner) met each other, purely within the time I have been watching, he doesn’t sound exhausted. And neither am I, listening to the answer. He finds ways of paraphrasing himself, of rephrasing. I begin to respect him as I listen. Even if it’s just for not being sardonic in the face of inanity, and weirdly broad questions. But is it art? The fatal question. I’m inclined to say no. But. It’s interesting. It’s something. And I’m still listening.