Shia LaBeouf Says He Was Raped During His Performance Art Show

Remember earlier this year, when Shia LaBeouf held a silent performance art show called “#IAMSORRY” in Los Angeles? It was pretty much a rip-off of Marina Abramović’s “The Artist Is Present,” in that visitors got to interact with LaBeouf in, apparently, whatever way they wanted to. And according to an email interview LaBeouf did with Dazed magazine, one visitor raped him during the performance while her boyfriend and LaBeouf’s girlfriend were waiting in line outside.

LaBeouf wrote:

“One woman who came with her boyfriend, who was outside the door when this happened, whipped my legs for 10 minutes and then striped [sic] my clothing and proceeded to rape me. Then walked out with her lipstick smudged to her awaiting boyfriend, who I imagine was quite hurt by it. All this happened in front of hundreds of people. …

Yea it was no good. Not just for me but her man as well. On top of that my girl [LaBeouf’s then co-star in “Nymphomaniac,” Mia Goth] was in line to come see me because it was Valentines Day & I was living in the gallery sleeping in a sleeping bag for the duration of the event — we were separated for 5 days, no communication so it really hurt her as well as I guess the news of it traveled through the line. She was only about 25 people back. All encounters were one person at a time but there were hundreds of people in line when she walked out with disheveled hair and smudged lipstick.”

As for Goth’s reaction? LaBeouf wrote:

“It really hurt her as well. When she came in she asked for an explanation, and I couldn’t speak, so we both sat with this unexplained trauma silently. It was painful. The hardest part of the show. It fucked our Valentines Day.”

Ya think? To be honest, I’m not sure what to say about this, as the perimeters of the art performance certainly … complicates things. It’s similar to Abramovic’s “Rhythm O” in 1974, in which she sat passively next to a table with 72 objects on it that visitors could use on her in any way they’d like — many of the objects were benign enough, some were designed to give pleasure, but there were also a variety of items that were or could be used as weapons, including a scalpel and a gun with one bullet. Abramovic later said of the experience, “What I learned was that… if you leave it up to the audience, they can kill you.” She also said, “I felt really violated: they cut up my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head, and another took it away. It created an aggressive atmosphere.” It’s interesting, daring work to say the least.

Since the piece involved LaBeouf maintaining a passive and silent role, he could not give consent verbally, with his body language or even his facial expressions, as he wore a paper bag over it  — which this woman certainly knew, so it’s absolutely a violation. I would definitely be interested in hearing more from LaBeouf on how the rape, especially in this context, impacted him. The closest he comes to reflecting on that in this interview is in this quote:

“I once felt to learn from tragic experience is as much happiness as one can aspire to. I’ve since learned there is a happiness past that: being ready to die for it is is only one part, being ready to live for it is the other.”