#IAMSORRY – Art Review

By Jordana Bragg

Shia LaBeouf official twitter page:

Late in 2013, Shia LaBeouf published a stream of tweets on twitter under the hashtag #IAMSORRY, including the statements “got lost in the artistic process” and “I fucked up”, in retaliation to the plagiarism scandal surrounding a 12 minute short film he produced titled: Howard that aired at The Cannes Film Festival, (2013). Howard was noted by many critics and audience members as a direct counterfeiting of the graphic novel Justin M. Damiano, (2007) by cartoonist Daniel Clowes, with the comic’s publisher Eric Reynold proclaiming LaBeouf’s short film to be “shameless theft”.

Shia LaBeouf’s independent exhibition/performance piece #IAMSORRY ran for six days in March 2014 out of the Cohen Gallery Space in Los Angeles. After standing in line outside, once inside the main foyer participants were instructed by security to enter a small exhibition space one at a time. Upon entering, two tables became apparent to the participant. One displayed several objects, including: an Indiana Jones whip, a model transformer toy, a bouquet of plastic daisies, a pink ukulele, a bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey, a basket of abusive tweets aimed at LaBeouf and the book Hershey Kisses written by Daniel Clowes, (the author he was accused of plagiarising). The other table featured LaBeouf sitting alone, opposite an empty chair, with a paper bag over his head with the hand written text ‘I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE’ concealing his face.

The objects laid out on the table were intended to be used by the audience on LaBeouf as they wished, while LaBeouf sat staring forward through the cut outs in the paper bag over his head, (reportedly looking disheveled as if he had been crying) passive to any attempt on the audience’s part to prompt interaction and conversation. With the passive artist sitting at a table and inviting the audience to use objects on him as they desire, there can be no denial of the fact that this performance could be considered both an adaptation and/or a direct usurping of original content from already canonised works within the history of performance art, including:

Yoko Ono | Cut Piece | 1965 | (Yamaichi Concert Hall, Kyoto, Japan).

Marina Abramović | Rhythm 0 | 1974 | (Modern Galerija, Ljubljiana).

Marina Abramović | The Artist is Present | 2010 | (Museum of Modern Art, NYC).

I consider #IAMSORRY as an ironic artistic retaliation to plagiarism (allegations). LaBeouf’s ‘apology’ comes in the form of plagiarising other artists, with this feigned ignorance serving to demonstrate his awareness of artistic authenticity.


512 Hours – Performance Review

The Spirit in Any Condition Does Not Burn

Marina Abramović | 512 Hours | The Serpentine Gallery | 2014

By Jordana Bragg

From 11 June – 25 August 2014 performance artist Marina Abramović completed a durational performance piece provoking/relying upon audience engagement, titled: 512 Hours. The title of the work directly references the duration, as from 11 June – 25 August six days a week from 10:00am-6:00pm, Abramović and gallery assistants commandeered a gallery space within The Serpentine (located in Kensington Gardens, London). After waiting in line participants were asked to remove and place their personal belongs (in particular watches, cameras and cellphones) into lockers. Once inside Abramović and/or a gallery assistant silently facilitated participants into undertaking simple actions, which aimed to encourage a heightened sense of attentiveness to the present, including staring at a wall, slow walking and counting grains of rice.

Not unlike Abramović’s durational performance piece as part of her retrospective The Artist is Present at MOMA (NYC), March 14-May 21 2001, where for a total of 736 hours and thirty minutes over three months for the entire duration of the retrospective Abramović sat across from gallery visitors and made eye contact with them, 512 Hours has been defined largely as ‘immaterial’, ‘nonobject’, with a focus on audience engagement.

My introduction to 512 Hours came via an article published on written by Richard Dorment, under the heading: ‘I hated every second but I can’t deny its power’. This initial information from the perspective of someone who had directly experienced the work was interesting, if nothing else, as Dorment proceeded to undermine his own intellegence and writing prowess by constantly referring to Abramović’s appearance and age as opposed to the work,

‘Only a person of her age, experience and appearance could have carried it off… In appearance Abramović’ looks like a cross between Clytemnestra and an Earth Mother. Her beauty is inseparable from a personality so powerful that she can silence a room just by entering it’, (Dorment, 2014).

Framing the power of Abramović’s performance work as directly referential to her physical attributes brings to mind a recent twitter campaign: #AskHerMore, which prompts reporters to reconsider their repetitious use of questions which devalue the accomplishments of women in the industry such as ‘who are you wearing’ and ‘how did you get in shape’.

After negotiating my way around similar articles I discovered Marina at Midnight, an online source of video’s uploaded each night to The Serpentine Gallery website, featuring Abramović speaking of the day she had just experienced as part of 512 hours. This resource allowed those who could not attend insight directly from Abramović’ and served to reiterate the artist’s endearment towards the audience.

Marina at Midnight:

Richard Dorment Review of 512 Hours: