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Two Performance Artists book by Scotch Wichmann
Two Performance Artists Kidnap Their Boss And Do Things With Him
Inspired by my crazy adventures as a performer on the road, this is the story of two performance artists who cook up the ultimate performance: to kidnap their billionaire boss...and turn him into the wildest performance artist the world's ever seen.

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Archive for the ‘Shia LaBeouf’ Category

Muses, Burgers, and Books

Friday, October 20th, 2017

Scotch Wichmann, performance artist, with  hamburger

The pattern’s been the same for as long as I can remember: the day I start a new paying job, it sucks the life out of me. A death vacuum. Zero creative breath for months on end. Energy, gone. Muse, vanished. Internal magic, nowhere. Reeling into the grind/er. The petty new minutiae, new co-workers, endless meetings, all-consuming. Brain, trailing impotent webs that ensnare nothing. I’m listless inside. Dry leaves. Grinning on empty. I wrote about this kind of torture once. Toiling away in a post office mail room in his late forties, fingers blistered and inky, Bukowski understood:

And what hurts is the steadily diminishing humanity of those fighting to hold jobs they don’t want but fear the alternative worse. People simply empty out. They are bodies with fearful and obedient minds. The color leaves the eye. The voice becomes ugly. And the body. The hair. The fingernails. The shoes. Everything does.

After six months at my new job, my mothy cocoon has finally cracked & I’m sliming out onto the jungle floor, sunlight above, just now taking in everything that shot over my decaying corpse like angels of death during the past half year: turgid politics, environmental disasters, horrors in Vegas, fucking Weinsteins . . . . It wasn’t that I didn’t care when these things flew by; it was more that I was already numb, brains empty, with zero to utter of value.

This is my version of depression. (And maybe yours). People face much worse, I know. But an anchor’s still an anchor. You’ll die drifting to the bottom if you can’t steal some air.

What saves me are magic performance art spells. Art shamanism. What Jodorowsky calls Psychomagic. Little symbolic acts that break mental patterns, current ways of feeling, and reorder reality’s illusions. Slump to the floor and roll around on a pile of silverware with an apple in your mouth. Pull voodoo bones from a piece of chicken and make a wish while you march in place. Commit misdemeanor acts of surreal sabotage in your enemy’s bathroom. Somehow I have the energy for these, even when I can’t muster it for anything else. Maybe I’m just curious how they’ll turn out, and they always do. It’s intuitive. My subconscious knows what medicine I need. And it always involves some ritual, some symbolic message to my subconscious that hey, I’m still here, still wanting to live, even if I don’t know how right now.

Eventually the light’s bright again, searing out the rest in electric white. The leaves go green. The muse reappears, sometimes in the form of a purple stray cat who wanders into my yard.

I don’t usually yap about my creative process & weirdo internal states, but maybe this’ll help someone somehow. (Maybe you).

In other news, the photo above [taken by KayDee Kersten] was from an October performance in Ventura where the message was this: High Culture is sneakily arbitrary. So, why not make up your own? If you wear a hamburger bun instead of a Rolex, you’ll always beat the Joneses (unless they have really bitchin hamburgers).

P.S. — Thanks to everyone who came out to Burbank’s Author Day at the Buena Vista Library! I signed copies of Two Performance Artists, and so much more! Arm casts! Pets! Even books by Shia LaBeouf! You’re the best! xoxo
Scotch Wichmann Two Performance Artists signing in Los Angeles


Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

NEWSFLASH: I’ll be protesting SHIA LABEOUF’s plagiarizing ass tomorrow/Thursday Feb. 13th outside the art gallery where he’s doing his #IAMSORRY “performance.” Stop on by anytime from 11am until 5pm and join in the craziness! Wear your favorite #lunchbagfashion! Cohen Gallery, 7354 Beverly Blvd.

UPDATE (2/13/14): The experience was incredible. WOW. *Thank you* to all of the friends, Hippos, family, and *new* friends for holding me up during today’s protest and #LABEEF performance. The huge crowd — some 300 people who’d been there 8 hrs or more — was empathetic, encouraging, and full of original POVs on Shia, his spectacle, and celebrity. I learned so much, and was blown away by the support—thank you.

Part of my performance (photos here) involved wearing a paper bag with the words #WE WERE NEVER FAMOUS printed on it, and using black duct tape to affix a beef patty to the top of each of my shoes (thanks for the discount, Burger King!). The beef was a reference to interviews LaBeouf has given in which he’s stated that his last name originates from barely-literate French ancestors who couldn’t properly spell the French word for “beef” (boeuf). I’d originally planned to use only one beef patty, but then decided to use two, with the second foot “plagiarizing” the first. And the pieces of black tape served as funerary stripes, like black arm bands, to mourn the slow death of LaBeouf’s originality.

I also ripped out pages from copies of LaBeouf’s zine Cyclical, signed them SCOTCH, and gave them away as souvenirs — my favorite gesture of all, and the crowd seemed to love it.

I was especially moved when, after hearing my story, several people throughout the day offered to let me take their places in line so I could confront LaBeouf directly, even though they’d been waiting for over 5 hours. I was grateful, but couldn’t do it. In order for the #apology to be sincere, I felt LaBeouf needed to come to me. I’d notified the gallery that I would be outside, and that LaBeouf was welcome to come out and apologize to me directly—his army of bodyguards were welcome too!—but he didn’t make an appearance.

Thanks to Jake Perlman at Entertainment Weekly for his fine interview, to KPFK’s talented Jasmine Broderick for talking with me, and to Pop Culture Beast‘s Kari Tervo for her great coverage.

Scotch Wichmann protesting Shia LaBeouf

Scotch Wichmann signing Shia LaBeouf's Cyclical zine

Scotch Wichmann protesting Shia LaBeouf at Cohen Gallery in Los Angeles

Scotch Wichmann protesting Shia LaBeef at Cohen Gallery in Los Angeles


Two friends of mine warned me not to let Shia steal my magic, nor my “magic wand.” Haha.

Worry not: LaBeoufs everywhere want nothing to do with magic. From my forthcoming biography, Shia: An Unauthorized Life:

Shia’s French forefathers were, by all accounts, country clodhoppers and barely literate. Cattle breeders by trade, they worked barefoot in the dung over 20 hectares of pasture just south of Montagnol.

The French word for steer was la boeuf, which, unsurprisingly, was also slang for the male organ. When a breeder went into town, he’d try to entice women with crass jokes about his beouf — accidentally misspelled, of course, and therefore mispronounced — to which the women would respond with glee: “n’existe pas, votre beouf!”

Confused, the breeder would report back to the other pasturemen that women had found his beef to be imaginary. Over time, the men became convinced that they’d been cursed with genitalia that only they could see (or smell). Frustrated, they stopped courting women. Known collectively as Les Beoufs, these beef bachelors passed the time by inventing elaborate pasture dances that consisted of leaping long distances in order to hump the air.

If, by pure luck, a breeder did manage to marry, his refusal to wear shoes or bathe made sex unthinkable. If his wife wanted a baby, she would write allemagne — the French word for Germany — on a paper and give it to her husband. Sounding out the letters, the husband would incorrectly render it as “aller magne” — literally, “to go to magne.”

Magne was, of course, a homophone for the English word ‘man’, but more importantly, it contained the prefix mag, from the old Greek magos, which signified a special male member of the priestly class — that is, not just a class ‘member’ (sexually and organizationally speaking), but a special one: namely, a magician or male witch. The husband understood that magic must be necessary in order to conceive a child — how else could it occur?

Reluctant to get too close to occult practices, the husband would take his wife to the train station at Montagnol, where she would show the allemagne paper to the conductor. The conductor would laugh, but faithfully charge the couple for a ticket to Frankfurt — a party town packed with German sailors on leave — and off the wife would go, away to ‘the magician’, the husband believed, only to return weeks later, happy as a clam, and of course, very pregnant.

And so it came to pass that Shia would hail from a long line of bastards who knew nothing of magic — but plenty about fruitless humping.

Shia LaBeouf Really Likes My Ideas About Performance Art

Monday, January 27th, 2014

…So much, in fact, that he apparently lifted passages verbatim from my performance art manifesto for his recent “performance art plagiarism” on Twitter.

If this whole drama is news to you, it really started in late 2013 when the world learned LaBeouf had plagiarized word-for-word from Justin M. Damiano, a comic by Daniel Clowes, for LaBeouf’s short film Howard Cantour. Caught red-handed, but determined to laugh off his asininity, LaBeouf presented a mea culpa through plagiarized apologies on Twitter, then did a little skywriting, and then offered the excuse that this had all been “metamodernist performance art” — that, oh you know, his charmed life is really just a performance art piece — all of which climaxed with a final twittering of performance art aphorisms that read almost like a performance art manifesto. An astute tipster googled some of LaBeouf’s tweets, and lo, discovered they’d been lifted straight from the performance art manifesto on my web site, as well as from writings of performance artist Marina Abramovic and others.

You can check out his (un)original tweets, my manifesto (originally published in 2009 as evidenced by, or compare them side-by-side. As payment for my writerly services, I won’t object if Shia wants to buy a few thousand copies of my novel when it comes out April 10th. I’ll even sign each one (unless, of course, he’d prefer to sign my signature himself? Ha).

I’ve received buckets of sympathy from supporters & cohorts, which I truly appreciate. Sincerely: thank you for having my back.

But I need to say for myself: I’m not without a sense of humor, nor do I lack appreciation for pastiche, sampling, intertextual play, remaking, invoking past influences, and the like; these are how humans push ideas forward.

I was reminded today (thanks, Mark Axelrod) that French-American writer Raymond Federman termed this kind of textual borrowingplaygiarism” to distinguish it from less artful, more insidious brands of thievery:

“To answer the question once and for all. I cannot explain how Playgiarism works. You do it or you don’t. You’re born a Playgiarizer or you’re not. It’s as simple as that. The laws of Playgiarism are unwritten. Like incest, it’s a taboo. It cannot be authenticated. The great Playgiarizers of all time — Homer, Shakespeare, Rabelais, Diderot, Rimbaud, Lautréamont, Proust, Beckett, Federman — have never pretended to do anything else. Inferior writers deny that they playgiarize because they confuse Plagiarism with Playgiarism. It’s not the same. The difference is enormous, but no one has yet been able to explain it. Playgiarism cannot be measured in weight or size. It is as elusive as what it playgiarizes.

Plagiarism is sad. It whines. It cries. It feels sorry for itself. It apologizes. It feels guilty. It hides behind itself.

Playgiarism on the contrary laughs all the time. It exposes itself. It is proud. It makes fun of what it does while doing it. It denounces itself.

That does not mean that Playgiarism is self-reflexive. How could it be? How can something reflect itself when that itself has, so to speak, no itself, but only a borrowed self. A displaced self.

If this is getting too complicated, too intellectual, too abstract, then let me put it in simpler terms — on the Walt Disney mental level: Playgiarism is above all a game whose only rule is the game itself. The French would call that plajeu.”

Lit critic Larry McCaffery writes about 3 kinds of plagiarist hoaxes: the kind intended to remain undiscovered (e.g., forged painting), the kind intended to be detected (via irony or exaggeration), and the third: an exact forgery, but whose “forged nature is built into the project” in the form of a constructed context (the context allows for the forgery to be inferred).

With his list of “playgiarizing” authors above, Federman seems to cover all 3 kinds of hoaxery — plain thievery, artful dodgery, and structuralized disclosure, respectively — but I find these forms of plagiarism to be vastly different from each other on the ethical scale (and on this, Federman is suspiciously quiet). Since le jeu (“the game”) can’t be self-reflexive — it can’t confess, having no self — and in the case where the audience has no idea a game is even being played — the playgiarizing “borrower” is really playing the game alone, and for his or her own gain, at the expense of the author who did all the work.

My guess is that Shia intended to succeed, through hubris or ignorance, in the first kind of hoax with his film’s brazen theft of Daniel Clowes’s comic. After that embarrassing & expensive failure, he stumbled upon the third kind of hoax through trial and error, creating a “constructed context” by accident, insofar as his listless celebrity aura, stuttering initial apologies, and reputation as a goof quickly made it unbelievable that he’d authored any of the tweets — his ham-handedness became the context in which we no longer believed his claims of authorship. And thus, his tweetfest devolved into dorky, eye-rolling postmodern pastiche — what Fredric Jameson called the “emergence of a new kind of flatness or depthlessness, a new kind of superficiality in the most literal sense” — which was ironically (and accidentally) fitting for a celeb — and especially one trying to confidently bullshit his way forward in spite of total inexperience.

In short, I guess I take issue less with going uncredited as part of an art project, and more with being part of a failed “artist’s” blind grasp at justification for his own initial ethical failure. It just feels kind of icky.

From Federman’s “Story of the Sparrow”:

“The moral of this story: Your enemy is not necessarily the one who shits on your head. Your friend, however, is not necessarily the one who pulls you out of the shit. And besides, one should never twitter when one is buried in shit.”

With his willingness to clumsily screw artists everywhere, it’s no wonder “Shia LaBeouf” is an anagram for “I Has Oaf Lube.”

See? I has a sense of humor.