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Amateur Performance Artist Shia LaBeouf Asks Callers to Touch His Soul

Just a month after Shia LaBeouf’s last piece of performance art concluded — sitting through a three-day screening of his film catalog at New York City’s Angelika Film Center in November, and inviting the general public to do it with him — he jumped right back into things. In his latest project, he wanted people to try to touch his soul via telephone.

The four day December project, called (wait for it) #TOUCHMYSOUL, saw LaBeouf and frequent collaborators Luke Turner and Nastja Sade Rokko seated at a Liverpool gallery that had been transformed into a makeshift call center. People were encouraged to call in using a UK number and were then asked by LaBeouf, Rokko or Turner, “Can you touch my soul?”

It seems the answer is, largely, “no.” In the above video, the project is often thwarted by LaBeouf’s celebrity presence: Callers are in awe that one-third of the people seated on the opposite end of the phone is movie star Shia LaBeouf, and they’re quick to express it.

There is, of course, the odd genuine moment here, too: A mother is brought to tears when recalling what doctors first said about her disabled son, who joyously shouts “Hi!” over the phone, able to speak against all odds. There’s also some hostility: A man refers to the piece as an overwrought publicity stunt and urges LaBeouf to actually do something meaningful to help others. The following exchange then takes place:

LaBeouf: Do you think people need to be listened to?
Angry man: Of course they do.
LaBeouf: So what’s going on here?
Angry man: Uh… you’re listening to me?
LaBeouf: Have a good day.

It’s a lackluster response on LaBeouf’s end, but props to him for including criticism in the final edit anyway.

One of the more interesting exchanges comes from a man currently suffering through depression and social anxiety, who says art has essentially saved him and gives him “something to look forward to” daily.

“I know you had the same start as I did, I guess, but I am, in comparison, a stepping stone for society whereas you’re a pillar of culture,” he says, echoing the familiar way we view celebrities’ contributions in comparison to our own. “It’s so hard to look at you as a human being considering that you’re just an object on a TV screen for me. I don’t know the struggle that you had, and it makes my struggle seem so much harder.”

LaBeouf says, “I disagree. We’re just not so different,” but he doesn’t offer much else of himself, leaving it sounding like a hollow, one-sided conversation where the caller is expected to do most of the legwork.

It’s a nice mix of interactions, ranging from lighthearted to emotional, though it’s unclear whether anyone truly managed to touch LaBeouf’s soul in the end. Check out the results in the video and decide for yourself.

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