This week Shia LaBeouf launched an art project/installation/thing called #IAMSORRY that mimics in many ways the performance art piece The Artist Is Present by Marina Abramović. Abramović was asked her thoughts on LaBeouf’s piece and she gave a very interesting response. Marina makes clear that she does not find Shia’s project to have “anything to do with her” even tho her piece was an obvious influence (which is a very kind response since many other people see Shia’s piece as a straight rip-off of Marina’s). Click below to read what else Abramović has to say about #IAMSORRY and her opinions on Shia LaBeouf himself.
Marina Abramovic — who famously sat in situ with visitors for days on end, tears streaming down her face, for her 2010 MoMA performance The Artist Is Present — was arriving at BAM for the world premiere of Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler’s new film, The River of Fundament. Since LaBeouf’s #IMSORRY borrows heavily from Abramovic’s work — worth noting, given that it’s supposedly LaBeouf’s apology for a string of plagiarism — we were curious to hear the artist’s reaction. “First of all, I can’t think that this is directly related to me,” she told Vulture. “He has a paper bag on his head, is that right?” Yes. “I’m very happy people are inspired by [my] work, but this is not the same work. I don’t see it as anything to do with me.” How does fame factor in? The paper bag on his head says “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE.” But wouldn’t there be a different reaction if he weren’t? “It’s so manipulative, and it’s so complicated to answer,” she said. “It’s very interesting to me that the Hollywood world wanted to go back to performance, which is something so different than what they are doing. Maybe they need our experience; maybe they need simplicity; maybe they need to be connected to [the] direct public, which, you know, being a Hollywood actor doesn’t permit you.” (Related: Kanye West was also at the screening, and he arrived with what appeared to be a brown turtleneck pulled up over the bottom of his face.) “I don’t know [LaBeouf]’s reasons,” Abramovic continued. “We have to ask him.” Just then, MoMA PS 1 director Klaus Biesenbach told Abramovic it was nearly time to find their seats:
Klaus Biesenbach: Marina, two more minutes —
Marina Abramovic: [To Klaus.] No, I know — but you know what’s happened? This actor is doing The Artist Is Present in Hollywood. Do you know about it?
KB: No. But I don’t want to know about it.
MA: Yeah, but it’s a pretty strong statement.
KB: Who’s doing it?
KB: Oh, he’s such a —
MA: So that’s it. I really can’t — it’s whatever people can do, do. We can see as an influence from my piece, but this is not my piece.
KB: What if he invented the wheel tomorrow? The wheel is invented. She did it, right? And we all know it.
MA: Oh. Okay, let’s leave it at that.
This is awesome. I’m a fan of Abramović’s work … not all of it but most of it. I really loved her The Artist Is Present piece so I can understand how others might be miffed at Shia’s apparent plagiarism with his performance piece. I think Marina is on to something when she says that celebrities “need to be connected to the public” in a way that most celebrities are unable to. Honestly, I don’t feel for a second that that is what Shia is going for (I really think he’s having fun and is going to try and get away with whatever he can either for fun or for the Hell of it) but I do think Abramović is right in her assessment overall about celebrities. I think she gave the best response possible in regards to Shia’s project. She can see the influence but feels it has nothing to do with her work. People will have their opinions and certainly Abramović has hers. I guess in the end, as with most things, people have to decide what they think for themselves.