How do the rules of consent work when it's a performance art piece where you as the viewer are told to do whatever you want to/with the subject? Clearly going sexual should be viewed as off limits to anyone with any morals but is this treated like a BDSM situation where consent is given until the safe word is uttered?
In an interview with Dazed Digital's Aimee Cliff, Shia LaBeouf has revealed that during his #IAMSORRY performance art project earlier this year, a woman observer whipped him and proceeded to rape him.
Back in February, LaBeouf put on #IAMSORRY in Downtown Los Angeles. In the piece, he silently sat in a room alone, dressed in a tuxedo with a paper bag over his head. People would enter the room one at a time and these viewers, who became "actors," in the piece, could do whatever they wanted with him. Some held his hand and cried with him. Some told him to "figure it out" or to "be a man." One woman, however, sexually assaulted him. When asked if any experiences from the #IAMSORRY project stood out to him as "particularly moving or unsettling" he responded:
One woman who came with her boyfriend, who was outside the door when this happened, whipped my legs for ten minutes and then stripped my clothing and proceeded to rape me… There were hundreds of people in line when she walked out with dishevelled hair and smudged lipstick. It was no good, not just for me but her man as well. On top of that my girl was in line to see me, because it was Valentine's Day and I was living in the gallery for the duration of the event – we were separated for five days, no communication. So it really hurt her as well, as I guess the news of it travelled through the line. 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.
LaBeouf doesn't mention reporting the rape or pressing charges against the woman. His dedication to his art and metamodernism is clearly extreme, but that remains a horrifying experience.
Image via Getty.