“So Anna, what have you been up to this summer?” “Well, I’ve been working, exploring Boulder, and last week I was stuck in an art museum with Shia LaBeouf.”
Meeting Shia LaBeouf
I managed to score a “press pass” to a panel at MediaLive (a weeklong art festival at BMoCA) with Luke Turner, Nastja Ronkko, and Shia LaBeouf. (Yes, you read that right.) I ended up getting early entrance to the event space and settled myself into a front row. While I was waiting, LaBeouf, Ronkko, and Turner came into the room and started setting the stage for their panel. We were some of the only people in the room and I was trying to not to be awkward. Not knowing what to do, I whipped out my old journal and started taking notes on my surroundings while waiting for the event to start. Smiling, I noted the irony of Shia’s Nike shoes and kept doodling, ...until I felt someone next to me. I looked to my right and Shia was sitting there.
We introduced ourselves and he seemed keen on my ideas and story. When Shia asked to read my notebook, filled with sassy and curious impressions about him, I just laughed. I gave it to him and we talked through my notes. Shia was eager to downplay the event into just a simple conversation on their art. He thought the hype was too formal and somewhat unnecessary. We talked about events going on in Boulder and before we could talk too much about “#TOUCHMYSOUL” my favorite project that they’ve done so far, he gave me my journal back and went to do pre-panel prep.
Shia was passionate about his work, curious about others, and excited to talk about their group’s story. There’s this weird anticipation about meeting celebrities face to face, but after a simple conversation he seemed like a friend I’d grab coffee with. I was so thankful to spend time with him as the normal human he wants to be seen as, rather than a celebrity. Wait, what just happened? I still can’t get over it.
The room was filled with traveling artists, young adults, fans, and curious people. The discussion began with an explanation of metamodernism and how that fits their current ideals of living their life. LaBeouf explained how he wasn’t an art kid and how acting never allowed for his own self expression when it was someone else’s vision. When Ronkko, LaBeouf, and Turner started collaborating (after Shia had gotten in some copyright trouble), they found their voice. “We want to take the narrative back,” said Shia, “...the media doesn’t talk about empathy.” Looking at their previous projects without the backstory makes it easy for the media to quickly deem them grandiose, or crazy.
“When you call someone crazy, you mute the artistic meaning behind their work.”
LaBeouf, Ronkko, and Turner are a fantastic team and are still trying to combat Shia’s celebrity status from taking away the impact of the group’s art. They discussed how having three team members allows for better idea and project creation. “If one of us doesn’t like an idea, we don’t do it. No exceptions.” The three curate a sense of connectivity and personal interactions. At one point, the audience began a discussion with each other instead of the three artists, and the look on Shia’s face couldn’t be happier. The mood of the afternoon was raw and real. They went through each of their past projects and explained the meaning behind them that can sometimes be misinterpreted. Showing both the positive and negative sides of the publicity and participation that they get gave the audience a first look into their artistic process, which has no predictable outcome.
After the event, The BMoCA staff and interns did a fantastic job keeping everyone entertained. This extra time allowed people to walk up and introduce themselves to the three artists and gave me time to dance with Shia. (Yes, you read that right again.)
These casual interactions made the event even more personal than anyone expected. When the public was able to hang out with the three artists, they were able to connect with the group’s empathy mission. “Empathy is muscle, and we all need to work it out.”
They Got Us
Sure enough, the day after the panel. Shia tweeted out the details for their next project “#TAKEMEANYWHERE.” For the next month, LaBeouf, Ronkko, and Turner are tweeting out their location and you can pick them up and take them anywhere.