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Museum of the Moving Image Cancels Shia LeBeouf's Controversial Anti-Trump Project

Picture of Rachel Gould
Art & Design Editor
Updated: 28 February 2017
After a brief three-week run, the Museum of the Moving Image canceled Shia LaBeouf’s controversial anti-Trump performance piece titled HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US. While the museum called the effort “thought-provoking,” it ultimately decided to cut the project short for reasons of public safety.

HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US was a collaborative performance piece between actor Shia LaBeouf and artists Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö. The project, which the coordinators called “a show of resistance,” welcomed passersby “to deliver the words ‘he will not divide us‘ into a camera mounted on a wall outside the Museum of the Moving Image, New York, repeating the phrase as many times, and for as long as they wish.” The camera, which ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week, delivered the footage to a live-stream on the project’s website.

Shia LaBeouf wearing a paper bag on his head at the premiere of the film "Nymphomaniac (I) | © Siebbi/Creative Commons
Shia LaBeouf wearing a paper bag on his head at the premiere of the film Nymphomaniac (I) | © Siebbi/Creative Commons

The video installation began at 9am on January 20th (Inauguration Day) and was intended to run through all four years of Trump’s presidency as a constant means of opposition. But in short order, the performance piece proved too hazardous for the Museum of the Moving Image.

Only days into the project’s launch, LaBeouf was arrested for getting into a fight with a Trump supporter. The 24-hour camera caught the entire debacle: a protester claiming that “Hitler did nothing wrong” and LaBeouf’s subsequent reaction. This was one of several threatening events associated with HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US.

The Museum of the Moving Image acknowledges the “engaging” nature of the installation, but released a statement saying that the project had become “a flashpoint for violence and was disrupted from its original intent.” The museum shut the camera down on February 10th.

The online space that streamed the project now reads, “THE MUSEUM HAS ABANDONED US.”