Shia LaBeouf may have slapped a fan in the face, but it isn’t what it sounds like. The slap was all in the name of art, however, as part of the actor’s latest performance art project called #ELEVATE. The fan actually asked the 29-year-old Transformers star to punch him, but the actor opted for a slap instead.
Collaborating with artists Nastja Sade Rönkkö and Luke Turner, LaBeouf and the two artists rode inside an elevator at Britain’s Oxford University in the student union from 9 a.m. on February 19 to 9 a.m. on February 20. Small groups of people were invited to participate in the #ELEVATE project by hanging out in the elevator with the actor. Fans lined up for the chance.
On the Union’s YouTube page, the goal of the project was outlined.
“Visitors will be able to join LaBeouf, Rönkkö and Turner inside the elevator during this time, and are invited to address the artists, the debating chamber, and the internet, so that their collective voices may form an extended, expansive and egalitarian Oxford Union address.”
Jack Lennard, a spokesperson for Oxford Union, also described the goals of LaBeouf’s art project.
“Part of the democratic nature of the performance the trio are exploring is this very odd social feel of who goes in the elevator, how many people can fit inside, how long do you spend in there. Part of the art project in itself is there is no real set time limit or set amount of people who can go in at any one time.”
After the 24 hours were up, LaBeouf, along with Rönkkö and Turner, gave a talk at Oxford Union about their experience with #ELEVATE.
The fan who wanted to be punched by LaBeouf waited in line for seven hours to ride in the elevator with him. People reports the fan LaBeouf slapped is a freshman at the university.
— JustJared.com (@JustJared) February 21, 2016
According to Page Six, the following is how it all went down.
The student told LaBeouf, “I’m a performance artist. Can you help me with completion of my next piece by punching me in the face?”
LaBeouf replied, “Oh man, you want me to punch you in the face? I don’t want to punch you very hard!”
The student told LaBeouf not to be a “p***y,” causing laughter from the group inside the elevator, and offered to lend the very reluctant LaBeouf his hat for the punch.
LaBeouf said, “I don’t like doing it though…I just met you.”
When LaBeouf still didn’t seem like he was going to comply with the request, the student then asked, “Or a slap at least?”
Though the elevator project was live-streamed on YouTube, the slap can’t be seen in the video as it took place after the elevator doors closed, but it can be heard in this audio. The Huffington Post reached out to LaBeouf’s camp for confirmation that the slap did happen but have not heard back at this time.
Afterwards, the student told Cherwell, Oxford’s student-run newspaper, that he asked Shia LaBeouf to punch him because he thought the actor might be “bored.”
Shia LaBeouf is no stranger to performance art. He showed up on the red carpet back in 2014 with a paper bag over his head that read, “I am not famous anymore.”
Angelika Film Center, 18 West Houston Street, NYC pic.twitter.com/dbqHQJy5UE
— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) November 10, 2015
He also hosted an art exhibit titled #IAMSORRY in Los Angeles where he sat silent at a table with a paper bag over his head. Shia LaBeouf later told Dazed magazine he had been raped.
In early 2015, he streamed his heartbeat and called the project #FOLLOWMYHEART. Then in November 2015, he did a project called #ALLMYMOVIES where he spent three days watching every single movie he made in chronological order while in front of a webcam at the Angelika Film Center in New York City. He set up a call center in December 2015 for the public to call him and “touch his soul.”
According to Complex, Shia LaBeouf partnered with Rönkkö and Turner for the projects #ALLMYMOVIES and #IAMSORRY as well as #ELEVATE.
[Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP]