"Not one person was looking at me and I thought, 'Wow this has nothing to do with me and nothing to do with the movies.'
"It created something that is bigger than all of us, all of the movies and all of the crowd. It’s connection. We were all connected for that moment. More-so for this show, than any other show we’ve done."
Shia's reputation as a performance artist is on the rise. His latest installation project on the NewHive platform entitled '#ALLMYMOVIES' alongside collaborators Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, has been met with astounding success and praise on the Internet.
The performance act involved Shia sitting in Manhattan's Angelika Film Center over the course of three days where he watched his entire filmography of 27 movies in reverse chronological order. He ate and took naps and briefly left the theater when it was necessary, but apart from that it was an intense moment of self-reflection and observation.
Even if people were quick to criticize or mock the project at first, by the end, the project proved to be a great success. Via a live camera feed, a space for the 'audience's audience' was created as viewers were able to watch Shia's reaction as well as the reactions of other people in the movie theater.
Shia has just recently opened up about the experience for the first time. From the way he spoke in the interview alongside his two collaborators, it is clear that the experience has been a transforming one, especially in the way it has shaped how Shia feels about himself.
Shia described the initial feeling after the project was done:
"I can’t articulate how big this was. I don’t even know yet. All I know is I feel the weight of it. I’m walking through the streets and I’m smiling [...] not only are people getting the artistic side of you but they’re getting the human side of you, watching that, you’ve shared everything.
Shia also maintains that the space created in the movie theater was one without rules or limitations, where no one was hard pressed to act a certain way around Shia for the requirements of the installation piece. Shia talked about how everyone was very much on an equal footing:
"There was one point where someone came up and took a selfie. And this woman said, 'Hey you can’t do that it’s against the rules.' And everybody thought I wasn’t talking. But I said, 'There are no rules in here.'
"In that room it was egalitarian. Yes, I was being stared at and I’m the focal point and the pointing is happening, but the pointing is happening for me too. If we’re all pointing, then we’re on the same level.
We were all looking at our yearbook together and we’re all in the yearbook. It felt like family, we were sitting there like a high school class. These are strangers, people I never met before. You don’t leave a museum friends with people.
Although some might falsely label this kind of performance art as 'arty' or 'pretentious,' it appears the things that Shia took away from the experience are very simple and real.
For Shia, it was about exposing his vulnerability. I think Shia is commenting on how real human connection and unity works when there is a collective breaking down of barriers and an effort to be vulnerable to one another.
Shia shared how his attitude towards himself changed by the end of the project:
I think people hate me. That’s just what goes on in my head. [...]
I walked out loving myself. Not in some grandiose, you’re fucking awesome way, but in like, you’re a part of a community, [...] coming out of there, it’s the first time I’ve actually felt part of this — it was very humanizing for me. I walked out loving myself. And I don’t think I was the only one to feel that."
"[W]hen we all got through it, it wasn’t just an applaud for me… it was like this cool little pause in life where all of the hubbub and all of the Bzzzz of running around and the busy-ness and the phones shut down and everything got really intimate and quiet. For what reason? No one knows. We still don’t fully know. [...]
It’s connection. We were all connected for that moment. More so for this show, then any other show we’ve done."
I'm also sure everyone in the theater appreciated it when pizza was shared around!