Entertainment & Arts

Shia LaBeouf takes public calls in Liverpool art gallery

LaBeouf, Ronkko & Turner at Fact Image copyright Fact
Image caption LaBeouf (left) is fielding calls with collaborators Nastja Sade Ronkko and Luke Turner

Actor Shia LaBeouf has launched his latest performance artwork in Liverpool, asking members of the public to phone him and "touch his soul".

The Hollywood star has set up his own call centre in the city's Fact gallery, where he and his two artistic collaborators are fielding calls.

They will be at their desks between 11:00 and 18:00 GMT from Thursday to Sunday.

Those wishing to touch LaBeouf's soul can call the trio on 0151 808 0771.

Others can visit the gallery to see the event unfold in person, or can watch a live stream and see notes the trio are making on Touchmysoul.net.

LaBeouf made his name in films like the Transformers series, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption LaBeouf has used his profile to examine the gap between fame and real life
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption His first "performance" came on the red carpet at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival

In the last two years, he has become known for art performances that examine the nature of fame and the gap between a celebrity's public persona and real life.

He wore a paper bag with the words "I am not famous any more" over his head on the Berlin Film Festival red carpet, set up a live stream for people to watch him watch all his movies one after another, and sat silently in a US gallery where visitors could come and say or do what they wanted to him.

He also gave a memorable motivational speech urging people to "just do it!", which became a viral hit.

This is his first such performance in the UK. He works with Finnish artist Nastja Sade Ronkko and Briton Luke Turner under the name LaBeouf, Ronkko & Turner.

Some critics dismiss their activities as stunts, but the actor told The Guardian they arise out of "an animalistic urge to express love that I can't express in film".

In Liverpool, the trio have been answering calls with the words: "You're through to LaBeouf, Ronkko & Turner, can you touch my soul?"

They are transcribing what the callers then tell them. According to their notes, they have been told:

  • "I've been struggling with depression and social anxiety, but waking up to performance art and it makes it easier."
  • "This is weird, this is soooooo weird, this is weird, this is weird."
  • "I wouldn't be welcome at home anymore. I'm a bit shaky, a bit teary now I think about it and I have to leave my girlfriend here in Liverpool. I'm due to go home to my homophobic parents tomorrow."
  • "I don't really know how to touch your soul over the phone? I don't really know what to say, I just thought I'd say hello."
  • "I just wanted to say keep up the good work and have a nice Christmas. I'm calling from another call centre in Glasgow."
  • "You ain't Shia."
  • "I'd love to touch your beard."
  • "I just want to know if you're OK."
  • "Can you send me your shoes and I'll touch your sole."

The trio are part of a group exhibition titled Follow, which examines how connected people really are in the digital age and opens to the public at Fact on Friday.

Curator Amy Jones said: "They're definitely exploring the idea that we're more connected than ever but the challenge of making sure those connections are real and meaningful is harder than ever.

"This idea of people from all over the world being able to call up and really talk to another person on the other end is quite liberating.

"But also the idea of it being through a phone line - it's mediated, so there's a distance, so it's a challenge to overcome that distance, which is something we all experience."

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