UPDATE: JANUARY 24, 2017
Originally, I questioned whether #HeWillNotDivideUs was art. I still question that. I had also questioned its effectiveness as activism, While I do not believe it is what I would consider to be activism, people are showing up and plenty of drumpf supporters as well (as expected).
The really only outcome I can see that is making its way into a reality, is bridging the gap(s) between white people. As white people are the predominant and most powerful race in this country, it is up to them to really dismantle this system by taking a step back and healing their own divides. The less drumpf supporters means the more white activists (even in the loosest sense of the word). They are the last at risk and have the least to lose, but that also gives them the most to risk and the upperhand at a time like this. The following snapshot of the livestream is almost humorous to me, and while I would rather Shia be more profound, the fact that he has the restraint -not with volume or insistence- to repeat this uber peaceful phrase that is not accusatory or attacking in anyway, actually impresses me. I would have blown up. I would have said some nasty things. I may have even gotten violent. But with all of those people watching, they have the opportunity to learn and grow and take part in what violent non-violence looks like and how it can be the most effective. You must work diligently but also not cave into being as evil and corrupt as the opposition. There are also other videos circulating out there from the live stream of people coming together and such if you do not have all the time in the world or access to sit at a computer all day and watch it live, you can find some highlights.
Twitter hashtag trending below:
I do not think this installation will stop the current administration or calm down the GOP, but I am curious to see where it goes from here. This is the most crucial time for white people to not be divided. Because if ya'll are divided, then everyone else gets to suffer the consequences.
LABEOUF, RÖNKKÖ & TURNER have returned with another piece of work. The group, led by the face of Shia LaBeouf, have created performance art and viral works that tend to manipulate technology.
The controversy behind #IAMSORRY shocked many. In this piece, Shia LaBeouf wear a paper bag with the words, "I am not famous anymore", over his head. There was a table of about 10 miscellaneous objects which visitors chose from before entering the small room where they encountered Shia. There were no other formal instructions or advisories, so visitors did what they pleased, which were mostly harmless actions. However, this provocative piece was just that: Shia was harassed and assaulted during this performance, which has caused fire and debate over whether cis men could be sexually assaulted and whether he "asked" for this when subjecting himself to infinite situational confrontations. The other collaborating artists said that no one was told that they could do whatever they wanted to Shia, while they also did not tell visitors what they could not do to Shia, either.
It is not a new idea that artists subject themselves to criticism and even harm with some of their works. Artists who have performed similar subjugation are notably: Yoko Ono and Marina Abramović.
Yoko Ono's Cut Piece offers audience members a pair of scissors with the instruction to cut her clothing. Eventually she is left exposed and nude. Perhaps Yoko realized that there was the chance she would be stripped of everything, but had a sliver of hope, doubt, that people would have respected her body. Perhaps she wanted to see just how far they would go. But as many of us are familiar with the true American (USian) breed, people are not respectful, compassionate, empathetic, or truly altruistic. There is evil and deceit at our core. Cut Piece, fortunately, did not leave as unwarranted an impact as other performances.
Marina Abramovic's Rhytm 0 was the O.G. that seems most directly to have influenced #IAMSORRY. Marina had a table of 72 objects:
gun, bullet, blue paint, comb, bell, whip, lipstick, pocket knife, fork, perfume, spoon, cotton, flowers, matches, rose, candle, mirror, drinking glass, polaroid camera, feather, chains, nails, needle, safety pin, hairpin, brush, bandage, red paint, white paint, scissors, pen, book, sheet of white paper, kitchen knife, hammer, saw, piece of wood, ax, stick, bone of lamb, newspaper, bread, wine, honey, salt, sugar, soap, cake, metal, spear, box of razor blades, dish, flute, Band Aid, alcohol, medal, coat, shoes, chair, leather strings, yarn, wire, sulphur, grapes, olive oil, water, hat, metal pipe, rosemary branch, scarf, handkerchief, scalpel, apple.
As you may notice, while there are seemingly mundane everyday items listed, there are also several items that can easily be used as weapons.
I apologize that this post is not for the faint of heart.
Marina's piece is far larger in scale, compared to Shia's with much more on the line, as a gun and bullet are just two of the most stark props in this installation. Differently from The Campaign Book's project, Marina's instructed that the audience could use any of the object provided "as desired". Marina also stated that she takes full responsibility for whatever the outcome of this performance; undoubtedly, this raises the stakes.
Rhythm 0 became one of the most notorious and acclaimed works of performance art.
Fast forward to 2017, and it seems just about anyone is calling anything art and the concept that art is indistinguisable, can be eveyrhting and nothing, has become a meme.
On Friday, January 21st, the grand inaugural, Shia LaBeouf and co. installed a video feed outside of the Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI). Stenciled on the wall as a starting point of conversation and complaints to the camera was the phrase: He will not divide us.
Earlier that day, I skimmed an article about this work as I boarded my flight to NYC. Being a childhood fan of Even Stevens and intrigued buy the projects of The Campaign Book, I didn't completely roll my eyes. I watched the beginning and saw Jaden Smith with a couple hype friends bobbing as if Jaden was rapping or spitting spoken word. I did not read this article and didn't have my earphones in so was utterly confused trying to understand this, and to be honest, I still don't. I went on a mini rant on how unimaginative and uninspiring it all was. Museums in NYC had no admission fees because of the inauguration, and I got into NYC just in time to meet my friend at MOMI. So out of coincidence, I locked eyes with Shia across the street, and seeing him standing there, was very...sobering. Everything just melted away and he was just a mediocre white man to me. And maybe when you see public figures in everyday life the glad always shatters and its hard to idolize them. The 4th wall had broken, and even though I would love to choreograph that weirdo in something, I didn't freak out or react.
After visiting the museum, my friend and I decided to swing around the corner to see what the fuss was about. A group of no more than 15-20 youngsters were huddled around with Shia saying their little mantra over and over. My friend and I couldn't help but record and laugh at how minuscule this whole event was. The voices started loud and died down every few seconds and the passion was lost in their voices. Is this political? Is it provocative?
And earlier, when I heard the crowd as I entered the museum, I heard the cheesiest uncle tom song with lyrics roughly, "all lives matter, love is good, we're all special, no hate" etc. etc. Yuck.
The live stream is suppose to continue for four years -the length of Drumpf's first term presidency. But this whole thing doesn't seem like it will have much impact, and when will Shia stop showing up? When will the stream cut out from tech issues? A couple people walk by and speak to the camera, saying whatever they would like, but to me, this is neither activism nor art. I have seen artists creates statements and written up details of art works but do not execute them to fruition, for they are more effective as conceptual and may not even be humanly feasible.
I think this project should have been hypothetical or somehow, more political. And if you have the chance to go in person, you will see there isn't much to it. It kind of remind me of my biggest irk: loser cishet white guy playing a guitar anywhere that isn't a stage; contrived, boring, mediocre, unimpressive.
This semester I am embarking on a binge of performance and conceptual art research and projects. I had an epiphany that this work is want I'd like to dive into because it aligns with the moral/political/activist work I want to do and the intersections of identity, with performative open the doors to what could be my most creative and influential work. One of my first assignments of my self-guided research was the #INTRODUCTIONS (aka "just do it" video) in its entirety, just to kind of have this frame of reference for what is considered modern performance art and with my experience this weekend, I can't wait to dive in.
My favorite (music video) performances by Shia include: