Around the middle of 2016, in a piece of art commissioned by Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and the Finnish Institute in London, LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner embarked on a journey. The piece of art was called #TAKEMEANYWHERE. The journey lasted from From 23 May until 23 June, and it carried them on a random, looping route around the United States. It worked like this:
In an attempt to hitch-hike the internet, each day the trio posted their coordinates online. They then waited for a ride. Whoever picked them up were allowed to take the artists anywhere they chose. Their path was entirely decided by people offering them rides.
Last week the Manchester Film Festival premiered a film of the journey. In the spirit of the work, the film is now available for free streaming or download via the artist’s Vimeo page. You can watch it below, if you like.
The film of#TAKEMEANYWHERE sort of answers one question: “Is the film the piece that we’re appraising?” Because, in a sense, “Yes” the film is one aspect of the piece. The Manchester Film Festival’s inclusion of the film attests to it’s value as a work of art. However, the (apparently/mainly self-shot) film is not actually the entire point of the piece. #TAKEMEANYWHERE is a project with countless spokes reaching into, and out from, the center. That’s kind of what this thing is about.
What the film shows is the trio of artists as they throw themselves into the unknowns of a life on the road. They do this with optimism, no real evidence of caution, and an eagerness to connect with all things. Of course, this is back before the He Will Not Divide Us installation(s) and the tug-of-war bullshittery that unfolded around that later project. #TAKEMEANYWHERE, thankfully, does not enter the dismal canyons of the current political sphere, instead it explores – and sometimes captures – a wonderful kind of humanity.
Romantic, wishful, and at times wonderfully childlike, the film hangs a sequence of vignettes like fairy lights. There’s humor between the artist-friends, and almost everyone they meet. There’s excitement too, in the process. Natural vistas, sunsets, the blinking-lights of broken down vehicles, all pass before us. Fireworks are set off. Guns are played with and enjoyed with fascination, not debate. Food is eaten. Shoe-collections are explored. Details of parole, and the struggles of fatherhood are discussed. Angry and celebratory songs are sung. Truckstop drinks are mixed. Hotel corridors are prowled down. Parking-lot soirees are attended. Families share their histories. Fans burst with high-fives. Campfires burn.
There’s no surprise that artists with this collective portfolio know how to frame a junkyard, or a concrete wall, and make it look good on camera. But the real magic here lies beyond the visuals, and in the people themselves. What lingers are the voiceovers. The people speak to the artists as if they’re in confessional, or craving connection. Disembodied voices describe relationships, aspirations, and failures. They offer a unifying portrait of our collective whole. That’s what this thing, #TAKEMEANYWHERE is also about. Trust. But it’s also about something more.
Anyone coming at this film with truly fresh eyes, and the ability to simply observe, will see three artists who engage fully with their unfolding environment and its population. LaBeouf, particularly, appears eager to throw himself into the now. He does chores, he puts in the work. He plays with people of all demographics – without contrivance or sales-pitch. He asks questions and he listens. That’s what this thing, #TAKEMEANYWHERE is also about. Surrender and connection. But it’s also about something more.
#TAKEMEANYWHERE is an open title. It’s an invitation into the will of an artist or three. In search of the existential whole LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner remove the individual aspect and connect it directly into the collective. The internet, and the road network are perfect devices to explore the relationship, distance, and closeness between things. This piece, which augments realities, is genuinely magical.
You’ve probably got some idea of ‘what you already think’ about one, or all of the artists, involved in #TAKEMEANYWHERE. But this movie, which reflects the magical trip that they undertook, is one of the most accessible pieces they’ve achieved. It finds the humane in all things, it listens without prejudice, it’s spiritual without being sappy. It has no immediate political framework.
Frankly, this piece of art blows like cool wind through the dark canyons.
HURRY – GET YOUR EYES ON – LABEOUF, RÖNKKÖ & TURNER